Earlier this year, the White House delivered a proclamation designating November National Entrepreneurship Month. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of entrepreneurship to transform communities. Reflecting on nearly 20 years as CEO of JumpStart, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial support organization, I’ve experienced first-hand the impact entrepreneurs have on the cities and regions they call home. Startups and small businesses not only benefit indicators of economic health, job creation, revenue generation, and tax contributions, but they also disrupt and transform industries, moving the needle and solving innovation-related problems.
Beyond the traditional tech founders and small business owners, entrepreneurship is alive and well in our corporations and institutions, where researchers and creative intrapreneurs are developing life-changing innovations and accelerating efficiencies in how we work and live.
National Entrepreneurship Month acknowledges business owners and innovators’ vital role in our economy. This recognition also reinforces current federal initiatives to elevate entrepreneurship across the United States. For example, The American Rescue Plan Act, signed in March, reauthorized the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) v2, which will provide $10 billion to democratize access to startup and small business capital and technical assistance across the U.S. and, most notably in underserved communities. And for a local example, the U.S. Treasury recently announced funding whereby Ohio entrepreneurs will have access to $182M in capital to advance their small business or tech startup.
JumpStart was one of the first venture development organizations in the United States, building a high-impact tech ecosystem by leveraging public, private and philanthropic resources. Over the past two decades, we’ve learned much from our successes and pivots.
With a renewed focus on entrepreneurship and new funding on the horizon, what will it take for our communities to maximize state and federal funding to strengthen our support ecosystem and accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship across Northern Ohio?
A cohesive and supportive ecosystem depends on the dedication and dedicated resources from leaders across sectors. Entrepreneurs, researchers, and corporate innovators need access to the same things to start and scale: capital, high-impact technical and commercialization services, and connections to clients, investors, and industry experts. With an established support network at the intersection of entrepreneurship, founders and innovators can access the resources they need to navigate from idea to launch.
Everyone has a role to play in building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, from founders ready to bring ideas to life to advisors and investors eager to be part of the next big thing, from corporations willing to pilot new ideas to talented teams excited to contribute to an entrepreneurial endeavor. Our communities can achieve substantial economic growth when we come together to support local startups and small businesses.
If it takes a village to raise an entrepreneurial ecosystem, it takes capital to drive it home. Northern Ohio is poised to compete with peer regions across the country, but we need a substantial influx of funding to attract and maintain job-generating, revenue-creating companies. Federal funds will soon be available to support historically disconnected communities, and access to considerable venture capital investment will accelerate our economic growth.
Northern Ohio is ready for its next chapter, and we are poised to fully leverage new capital opportunities to achieve our collective vision for a cohesive and thriving innovation economy. We have an established ecosystem of entrepreneurial support organizations, including MAGNET, Bounce, OAI, and others. In addition, our region is home to long-standing academic, philanthropic, and research institutions and globally revered healthcare systems. With greater collaboration among statewide institutions than ever before, I am encouraged by the momentum of our entrepreneurial ecosystem.