A registered nonprofit organization that calls itself a community resource to help entrepreneurs has weighed in — at least via twitter –– on the politically charged Occupy Wall Street protests that have popped up across the nation, including in Nashville.
A day after a few hundred protesters staged a rally on Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Tennessee Legislative Plaza, the downtown Nashville-based Entrepreneur Center –– the beneficiary of public dollars –– used its official twitter page to point to a counter protest to its more than 2,000 followers:
“Trend Alert! #iamthe53 counterprotesting the occupy wallstreet protests! Entrepreneurs Unite!” read one tweet, dated Oct. 7.
A subsequent tweet alluded to “Obamacare,” arguing that the new federal health care law “created regulatory uncertainty that’s keeping investors from entering the market.”
The second tweet again used the “hashtag” #iamthe53. The expression is often used to represent the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes and to show contrast with the Occupy Wall Street protesters who, it is assumed, are part of the 47 percent who don't.
The local political blog Enclave first reported the center’s tweets. Shortly after The City Paper contacted the entrepreneur center on Tuesday, these and other tweets appeared to have been erased.
“Within the bigger context of economic development and job creation, there is frustration across the country about the status of the economy,” Clay Jackson, the entrepreneur center’s director of marketing and communications told The City Paper. “The Occupy Wall Street protests, as such to me, are very undefined as far as what their goals are.”
Jackson seemed to downplay taking sides in the ongoing protests.
“The [Entrepreneur Center] stands behind people who are trying to create jobs and build companies,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a side for us to fall on within that debate. If you see us as weighing in, it’s weighing in on the side of people who are trying to create jobs, to build great companies.”
In September, the Entrepreneur Center landed a $2.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to help fund the construction of new facilities at Rolling Mill Hill. According to the Nashville Post, the grant’s dollar-figure marked the largest in Middle Tennessee history.
A combination of private and public dollars funds the entrepreneur center, which connects fledgling entrepreneurs with the investors, mentors and resources they need to accelerate the launching of startup businesses.
Mike Byrd, who publishes the Enclave blog, said he was surprised and concerned to see the entrepreneur center weigh in on the Occupy Wall Street protests.
“Given their mission, I would think that this organization would want to remain neutral and above the fray,” Byrd said.
“It’s a little too partisan for a non-profit group to get involved with, especially given that they’ve received so much money from the federal government,” he said.