— The Entrepreneur visa program that was supposed to be a boon for the state’s tech industry is being revived by some of the biggest names in the state.
Tennessee is hoping to expand the program by awarding more visas to companies that are seeking to expand operations overseas.
Under the original program, about a third of the visas issued were for people seeking to open new businesses.
But some companies have been granted more visas under a new program.
The state is hoping the new visa program will help the region attract more top-tier companies to create jobs in Tennessee, including companies that hire American citizens.
We are doing all we can to help companies and people here who want to make Tennessee their home and bring new ideas to Tennessee and the country.
In a letter to the state Board of Directors, the Nashville-based entrepreneur center said the program would provide up to 1,400 entrepreneurs with an additional 10,000 visas.
It also said the new program would help “make Tennessee a more attractive destination for companies seeking to build their businesses abroad.”
The program, which was set to expire in 2020, would provide $25,000 for an entrepreneur to apply for and $1,000 to be approved for a visa.
Companies must now meet specific criteria, including their business plans, financial strength and presence in the Tennessee economy.
They also have to demonstrate they have a good track record of creating and operating successful businesses in Tennessee.
Businesses seeking to apply have to be based in Tennessee for a minimum of 10 years.
Since the program was set up in 2004, about 1,000 companies have applied to be eligible.
Tennessee is the only state that has yet to award any visa.
Tennessee lawmakers have pushed the program for years to encourage business activity.
Last year, Gov.
Bill Haslam said the state was in a state of “unprecedented prosperity” and had created enough jobs to support 1 million residents.
But Tennessee lawmakers have had trouble persuading business owners and others to sign on to the program.
Some have voiced concerns that the program is too lenient and does not include a minimum level of training.
“I don’t know of any other state where you can get a visa without going through a 10-year program,” said David Johnson, a Tennessee-based attorney and author of the book “The Entrepreneurs Rule: The Rise of the Global Startup Nation.”
“If you’re looking to bring new talent to Tennessee or to help people here, you’re going to need a degree.”
Tennessee also wants the program to help boost the state as a tourism destination.
In February, the state announced a $10 million initiative that will encourage tourism, with a focus on Nashville.
As a result, more than 20,000 people from across the state have been allowed to visit, according to the Tourism Commission of Tennessee.
Tennesseans have also been clamoring for the program in the past few years.
In 2017, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce launched a “Tennessee for Entrepreneurs” campaign, featuring a $2 million donation to the entrepreneur center.
Critics, however, say the campaign has not gone far enough and has not gotten the program started.
Sen. Robert Hunt, R-Knoxville, has called the chamber’s effort “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“The chamber’s latest efforts are a waste of taxpayers’ dollars, which they should not be spending on a program that is not ready to go,” Hunt said in a statement.
Hunt, who has proposed a similar visa program for the Nashville region, said the chamber needs to get the program going faster.
He said he is confident the chamber will get the chamber on board soon.
The new entrepreneur center says it hopes to award another 10,500 visas, to a total of 2,400.
The new visa would allow Tennessee to add more business incubators, a “high-performing venture capital fund and more venture capital funding.”
The program is a collaboration between the entrepreneur community, business groups, business leaders, civic groups and others, said Aaron Hines, president and CEO of the Tennessee Venture Council.
Hines said the initiative will be a catalyst for new business development.
For the first time, the company that is the biggest employer in the region, Blue Ridge Industrial, is receiving an entrepreneur visa.
The Tennessee Venture Chamber, which has been a leader in the fight for the business visas program, said it is pleased to see the company receive the program and to have a positive impact on the region.
Blue Ridge Industrial employs about 1.5,000 and employs more than 100 people in the Nashville metro area, including about 500 in the office and more than 200 in manufacturing.