First Tennessee Operation Hope success story: Atina Labs

A graduate of our Entrepreneur Training Program, Charles D. Hill, recently opened the doors of his new business, Atina Labs.

Charles D. Hill was encouraged by his wife to launch a business after he retired from Memphis Light Gas & Water after 20 years. Initially inspired by his mother, Irene Holt, who was an entrepreneur and owned a restaurant, sports bar and a fish market, Hill remembers the key lessons he learned from her: how to read and count money.

As he began researching small businesses, he located the Operation HOPE Entrepreneurial Training Program, a partnership between Operation HOPE, COGIC Urban Initiatives, and First Tennessee Bank.

“We are very excited about the early success and solid impact of our Entrepreneur Training Program through our partnership with Operation HOPE,” said Steve Swain, manager of Operation HOPE programs for First Tennessee. “We will continue our commitment to meeting the small business entrepreneur training, credit and financial needs by expanding economic empowerment in underserved communities, enhancing dignity through financial education.”

Meeting Operation Hope Financial Counselor, Trudy Morrison, on the first day of class, Hill knew he was in for an exciting and fun challenge. “I learned how to do an elevator pitch, understand my sales strategy, and identify my target market,” he said.

“Drug usage in the U.S. had been on the rise. There is a demand for drug screening and collection businesses,” said Hill, who is a certified Breath Alcohol Technician, Urine Drug Screen Collector and Hair Drug Screener.

“The training program helped me to shape my vision, write a business plan, conduct market research, understand credit and accessing capital,” stated Hill. “The new skills in advertising, accounting, and networking will allow my business to flourish and grow.”

Hill’s goal is for Atina Labs to be a highly visible and reputable firm known as the leader in the substance abuse screening industry in the Mid-South area. He challenges aspiring entrepreneurs to “move past the fear of failure” and encourages them to not let their dreams go without trying. After graduation from the 12-week program in May of 2018, Hill opened the doors to his physical location, Atina Labs in February 2019.

First Tennessee Bank holds free credit score workshops for Financial Literacy Month

In conjunction with its Operation Hope initiatives, First Tennessee Bank will be hosting a free workshop to help Nashvillians improve their credit scores. The workshop will take place Saturday, April 13 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, at the Metro Center branch at 2110 Rosa L. Park Blvd.

Interested participants can contact Michael D. Morrow at 615-268-9053 or by email at <>. Online registration is open at <>.

Workshop participants will learn about establishing or improving a credit score, budget techniques to get the most out of a limited income, and strategies for paying off debt and using credit wisely. The free sessions are open to everyone.

First Tennessee’s partnership with Operation HOPE invests in financial education programs that allow individuals and small businesses to create solid foundations, achieve economic dignity and secure their financial futures. 2018 financial literacy impacts included: over 8,000 new clients served across 21 HOPE Inside locations, 1,360 clients still actively enrolled in services, and 84 new small businesses created.