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JumpStart To Promote Entrepreneurship in 20 Cities

[ 0 ] Apr. 30, 2012 | SBO Editor

Knight support kicks off effort to raise funds for $15 million program expansion

A $1 million challenge grant recently announced will help JumpStart Inc. bring a new model for engaging residents in fostering entrepreneurship to 20 additional cities.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting the Ohio-based JumpStart’s “JumpStart America Initiative” as a way to involve new leaders in their community’s economic future. Part of the Startup America Partnership, the community-focused effort leverages regional public, private, philanthropic and institutional partnerships to spur the creation of new jobs by developing, identifying and supporting high-impact entrepreneurs.

A challenge grant, Knight’s support kicks off an effort to raise an additional $14 million to implement the program over the next three years. Knight was an early supporter of the work, initially providing $500,000 in seed funding to help six Midwest regions in Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The founding pilot project subsequently expanded to New York and Louisiana.

“JumpStart’s approach is based on one simple truth: to succeed in creating an environment for innovation, we must deliberately focus on engaging the community in determining the best way forward,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives. “Its focus on empowering transformational change, while leveraging technological solutions like the online community IdeaCrossing demonstrates the type of innovative approaches we encourage.”

In communities across the country hit hard by job loss, JumpStart brings together traditional economic development groups with an array of entrepreneurs and other public, private, philanthropic and institutional leaders and citizens. The group then conducts research, develops frameworks and strategies, and helps raise resources and support for entrepreneurs. All efforts are deliberately inclusive of women and minority entrepreneurs. Ultimately, community leaders are responsible for designing and implementing regionally-informed action plans that optimize the resources and assets of their communities.

“This is about bringing diverse people together to develop a specific, customized, and informed approach to addressing a region’s entrepreneurial economic development opportunities,” JumpStart CEO Ray Leach said.

For example, in Northern Indiana, more than 1,000 residents worked with JumpStart to look beyond their neighborhoods to design a regional strategy that focuses on a mix of global industries. Implementation of the comprehensive plan developed through this process will require an anticipated $18 million from regional and national public, private, philanthropic and institutional sources.

“This approach to entrepreneurship is widely recognized for its success in Northeast Ohio—and its potential for regions across the country,” said Jennifer Thomas, Akron program director for Knight Foundation, which focuses on promoting informed and engaged communities.

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

JumpStart accelerates the successes of entrepreneurs, their companies, and the ecosystems supporting them. For more information, visit jumpstartinc.org and follow @JumpStartInc on Twitter.

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Category: Features