Accelerators, incubators and venture development organizations like JumpStart have traditionally focused attention on a specific kind of business — high-tech, venture capital-backed startup.
At JumpStart, we’ve spent more than a decade helping these kinds of ventures (and the entrepreneurs behind them). Along with our partners, we’ve helped more than 1,000 companies raise $1.7 billion in capital, generate $1.2 billion in revenue and create/retain 10,000 total jobs.
Our region started the 21st century ranked dead last in the U.S. for “friendliness to entrepreneurship.” Today, it ranks as one of the top 35 locations in the entire world. We’re certainly proud of this surge. Still, as we look toward our future — and the future or our region — two important things have become clear:
- Startups alone cannot create jobs at the rate we need. These ventures are the foundation on which the future is built. Every successful company was once a startup, so they are critically important. However, they are typically not massive job creators right out of the gate.
There exists significant short-term hiring potential among more established companies — often outside the high-tech space — who already have revenue and customer traction needed for rapid growth and aggressive hiring.
We call these companies “scaleups.” We are expanding our work to help them overcome barriers to growth and tap into the resources needed to fulfill their potential and create jobs. Our scaleup program operates in conjunction with our startup-focused work, offering a more comprehensive approach to realizing the untapped potential of our region’s promising entrepreneurs.
- Increased support for small businesses in underserved neighborhoods can generate significant economic impact. By increasing our entrepreneurial ecosystem’s connections to small business owners, there is the significant potential to create business growth and employment opportunities, especially in Cleveland’s core city communities.
High-tech or not, these entrepreneurs and small business owners are absolutely essential to the future of our region, not to mention the neighborhoods in which they are located. This is one of the core concepts behind Growth Opportunity Partners, a JumpStart powered community lender that provides small business loans and financial coaching to companies looking to create meaningful-wage jobs in these neighborhoods.
It has also provided the impetus for the creation of a new Core City initiative, located in Midtown Cleveland. The program will provide co-working space, technical assistance and mentoring to small business owners who want to transform their neighborhoods through entrepreneurship, but need advice and stronger connections to our region’s strong entrepreneurial infrastructure.
Northeast Ohio has come a long way since the early 2000s and must continue the momentum by nurturing the next crop of successful entrepreneurs whether they be startups or scaleups, high-tech or non-tech, city, rural or suburban. By connecting with a much broader spectrum of the entrepreneurial community, we can leverage a broader base from which to find the business success stories that will shape our future.