Q&A With JumpStart CEO Ray Leach: Cleveland Needs Culture Change

Since 2003, JumpStart has been working to grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northeast Ohio. Its mission is to promote economic transformation by unlocking entrepreneurs’ full potential.

Jeff St. Clair sits down with Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart, to discuss entrepreneurism in Northeast Ohio.

Jeff St. Clair: What does Jumpstart do?

Ray Leach: Jumpstart’s mission is to unlock the potential of diverse and ambitious entrepreneurs to economically transform entire communities. So what that means is we coach thousands of entrepreneurs that are tech startups as well as micro enterprises and existing small businesses to help those organizations create new wealth, new jobs, new economic opportunity. We were founded in Northeast Ohio so that’s still where the majority of our efforts and activities happen, but we do work all across the state of Ohio and in New York. Secondarily, another big piece of what jumpstart works on is access to capital, so we’re investing in dozens of tech startups as well as helping to facilitate conventional loans and lending to more traditional companies located all throughout Ohio.

J: When you think of Northeast Ohio, there’s a lot of a big companies, a lot of established companies, but it’s not necessarily a hotbed for new business creation. What are your goals and how are you going to get there?

R: To give a broader point of view, from 1990 to 2002 if you looked at the largest 61 economic regions in the United States, Northeast Ohio was the worst performing entrepreneurial region almost for 12 years in a row. This has a lot to do with the startup companies from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Who ended up becoming major fortune 500 corporations, and we can go down the laundry list across Northeast Ohio – they’re all household brand names.

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