Shannon Johns, founder and owner of Thrive Therapy, is shown with a poster about the Cumberland Business Incubator, where her office is located.
Nov. 22, 2019
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
It’s an unusual part of having a business in Roane State’s Cumberland Business Incubator, says current tenant Shannon Johns: The objective is to expand, to grow so large and become so successful you have to relocate.
Johns, a former schoolteacher at two Cumberland County elementary schools, is the founder and owner of Thrive Therapy. It’s a pediatric speech and feeding clinic that opened in May 2018 on a part-time basis, initially providing summer speech therapy to children from local schools.
In less than a year, Thrive Therapy has grown to the point the company is providing speech and feeding therapy five days a week, there’s now a waiting list of potential clients, and Johns is seeking other therapists.
Johns said she learned about the Cumberland Business Incubator from a former CBI tenant, Allison Crawford, owner of Momentum Behavior Analysis. Crawford’s success is the path Johns said she would like to pursue: Start in the CBI and expand to the point where the business must relocate to bigger quarters.
But for now, Thrive Therapy is still on an upward trajectory, and Johns said she’s very pleased with the CBI. “It’s a great way to start and grow a business debt-free,” she said. She said her leased space is offered at a reasonable rate, and it meets Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
In addition, Johns said she’s received tips on launching and nourishing a fledgling business. “When it comes to the activity of running a business, Holly (Hanson) and the CBI have been invaluable,” she said. Hanson is director of both the CBI and Roane State’s Cumberland County campus, which is adjacent to the CBI on Cook Road.
One of the recent CBI success stories is Tree of Life Beauty, a skin-care company that sells its products on Amazon and other outlets. Its business became so large it relocated to another Crossville site and built a warehouse for its many products.
Current CBI tenants include Women on Wings, which helps women in transition; Eagle Industries, which makes floor mats for work vans; Modern Payment, which provides credit card payment systems; PC Medic, a computer repair business; Healing Touch Massage; an office for the executive director of the Tennessee Home Builders Association; and TPM Technology, involved in website development, social media and prototyping for 3D printing.
The 10,000-square-foot incubator building opened in 2011. Roane State manages the building and is one of a handful of colleges involved in efforts to grow local economies through such facilities.
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