Of Note: 28 October 2020

Elicia Azali

Nashville-based The General Insurance has awarded a $25,000 “NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant” to local entrepreneur Mignon Francois, founder and CEO of The Cupcake Collection.

The grant was awarded as part of the inaugural, live-streamed event Black Entrepreneurs Day, curated by Daymond John.

In addition to the $25,000 grant, The General will provide Francois with private mentorship sessions with Shaquille O’Neal, John, and Elicia Azali, The General’s chief revenue officer.

“The General is thrilled to have awarded the $25,000 “NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant” to Mignon Francois and The Cupcake Collection,” Azali (pictured) said in the release. “Supporting a small business in our local Nashville community and contributing to making their goals a reality means a lot to us.”

Francois started The Cupcake Collection in New Orleans in 2008. To date, the business has sold more than 5 million cupcakes in both New Orleans and Nashville.

Azali was a featured speaker as part of Black Entrepreneurs Day’s signature Game Changer Conversations with the aforementioned Daymond John. The free virtual event brought in over 6.2 million viewers across 20-plus social platforms.

New York Times adds Nashville bureau

The New York Times is opening a Nashville bureau, with Rick Rojas, an Atlanta-based NYT correspondent, to oversee as chief. Rojas will be supported by Richard Fausset, the bureau chief in Atlanta.

The Times did not note in a company announcement if the Nashville bureau will have a bricks-and-mortar office and how many staffers will be involved.

“The New York Times’ plans to open a Nashville bureau highlights the growing impact of Tennessee and the Southeast region on the entire country, particularly as a hub for economic development," Van Tucker, interim CEO of LaunchTN, said in a statement. "Tennessee has tremendous innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, and it’s exciting that businesses and organizations like NYT are recognizing the vast potential of our statewide community. More and more businesses will be flocking to the area as they realize the collaborative and creative network of people and resources here, and I’m excited to see the Tennessee landscape continue to grow as a top destination for entrepreneurs and businesses.”


Avail launches at BNA

Peer-to-peer car-share service Avail will be offering service to and from Nashville International Airport beginning Thursday, Oct. 29.

According to a release, the service will provide passengers a transportation option in addition to traditional rental cars, other ride-share options, of shuttles and buses, taxi cabs, limousines and courtesy cars.

BNA is the first airport in Tennessee to feature Avail and the 11th in the U.S.

“Avail provides an innovative transportation option for customers,” Doug Kreulen, president and CEO of Nashville International Airport, said in the release. “We look to enhance convenience, efficiency and cost-competitiveness in the services offered at BNA, and this new company offers one more example.”

Avail provides an online platform enabling people to share their car with another user for a fee. Staff members examine motor vehicle records of drivers, conduct safety inspections and disinfect vehicles with high-grade, multi-purpose cleaners prior to each use. Insurance protection is provided by Allstate. Mike Osborn serves as Avail CEO.

PNC Foundation donates $75K to Pencil

PNC Foundation has donated $75,000 to nonprofit Pencil, and organization that links community resources to Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Specifically the PNC donation will equip MNPS pre-kindergarten students with at-home learning supplies.

“We are grateful to PNC Foundation for ensuring that thousands of Nashville pre-schoolers will have access to high-quality, engaging materials at home during this challenging time,” Pencil (stylized as “PENCIL”) President and CEO Angie Adams said in a release. “It’s especially important, given that as many as three-quarters of Metro Nashville Public School families are experiencing economic distress, and these tools will be available quickly and at no cost to families.”

MNPS Director of Pre-kindergarten Programs Phyllis Phillip collaborated with PNC Foundation and Pencil to determine the items needed for the young students.  

Baker Donelson’s Severson lands induction

Adam Severson, chief marketing and business development officer at Baker Donelson, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Legal Marketing Association.

LMA bills itself as the largest professional organization in the world dedicated to the advancement of the legal marketing and business development profession.

A member of the Baker Donelson’s Nashville office, Severson served as president of the LMA in 2015. His previous leadership roles within the LMA have included president-elect (2014), Orlando Annual Conference Committee co-chair (2011), International Board of Directors member at large (2008-09) and secretary (2007), and Minnesota Chapter president (2006).

"Adam's more than two decades of industry experience along with his genuine passion for legal marketing and business development are evident in everything he does,” Baker Donelson President and COO Jennifer Keller said in the release. “His knowledge, energy and guidance have been a tremendous asset to our attorneys, the Firm's leadership, and his team. We're extraordinarily proud to congratulate Adam on this well-deserved recognition."

Sonic opens EchoPark in MetroCenter

Sonic Automotive Inc., a Fortune 500 automotive retailers, has announced the opening of its first EchoPark specialty pre-owned vehicle store in Nashville.

The new store is located at 2121 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. in MetroCenter and allows visitors to shop an assortment of 1- to 4-year-old pre-owned vehicles priced 20 to 40 percent below new car pricing. The location was formerly a Sonic Automotive franchised dealership.

The Nashville retail hub is EchoPark’s 13th location nationwide, with the company projecting to sell more than a million pre-owned vehicles annually by 2025.

“Quality, pre-owned vehicles are in high demand across the nation,” David Smith, chief executive officer of Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive, said in the release. “In July, we announced the accelerated expansion of our EchoPark network, and we are excited to introduce EchoPark to the Nashville metro area and the State of Tennessee with our diverse inventory of nearly new pre-owned vehicles at below-market pricing.”

In the coming months, the company plans to open additional EchoPark locations in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas.

Based in Charlotte, Sonic is also planning a dealership in Rutledge Hill in downtown Nashville (read here).

Send info to wwilliams@nashvillepost.com.

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