Festival convenes non-partisan executive leadership forum for leaders in the Commonwealth

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA Tom Tom Founders Festival, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering diverse entrepreneurship in small cities, today announced the launch of the first-ever Virginia Policy Entrepreneurship Retreat this April 13-14 in Charlottesville, VA at the Marriott Residence Inn Downtown and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

The Virginia Policy Entrepreneurship Retreat is an intensive workshop for Virginia’s  mayors, city and county managers, and economic development directors, designed to facilitate entrepreneurial thinking and action in government. The Retreat takes place as part of Tom Tom Founders Festival’s inaugural Hometown Summit, America’s biggest conference for small cities.

The Virginia Policy Entrepreneurship Retreat will be co-hosted by Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia (SE@UVA) and Babson College, and will be led by Jim Cheng, former Secretary of Commerce for the Commonwealth, and John Kluge, Co-Founder of the Alight Fund and Advisor to SE@UVA. “The Retreat’s curriculum was jointly developed by Babson College and UVA, both world-class leaders in entrepreneurial education,” says Kluge. “Our methodology is designed to provide policy entrepreneurs with the space and expertise they need to develop paths to resiliency and collaborative changemaking.”

The Retreat aims to foster a state-level entrepreneurial ecosystem that will lead to greater effectiveness in government. The initial cohort will convene annually, allowing  participants to stay connected as they implement their respective local projects.

“The first cohort of Virginia Policy Entrepreneurs will work together in a mix of classroom and interactive sessions, and will integrate content with the larger Hometown Summit,” says Cheng. “The energy generated from each of these events will have a  long-lasting impact through entrepreneurially inspired policy initiatives.”

Executives from Virginia’s city and state governments–particularly mayors, city managers, and economic development experts– will compose the cohort. Facilitators, drawn from Babson College, the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Darden School of Business, and the private sector will serve as resources for the group.

Participants will also have the chance to interact with small city innovators from across the country during  Hometown Summit activities. Cheng and Kluge say that they hope the Hometown Summit and Virginia Policy Entrepreneurs Retreat will help to raise the profile of Charlottesville and the Commonwealth of Virginia as national leaders in urban and policy innovation.

“This Retreat is about bringing the creativity and efficiency of entrepreneurial thought into the work of government, which has such a profound impact on our everyday lives,” says Paul Beyer, Founder and Executive Director of Tom Tom Founders Festival. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for growth among our state’s urban innovators, and our hope is that the Retreat’s innovation-oriented lessons will ultimately prove to have a significant national impact.”