Boosting Entrepreneurial Successes: Economic Council and JumpStart partner to develop plan to capitalize on region's innovation assets
Kathryn Jamboretz, VP, Marketing & Communications
ST. LOUIS, May 23, 2012 -- St. Louis County Economic Council is teaming up with Cleveland, Ohio-based, JumpStart Inc., a nonprofit venture development organization. Their objective is to prepare, fund and implement a local plan to provide more of the resources -- including technical business assistance and capital investment -- to startup companies in the metropolitan St. Louis region.
The project is part of JumpStart America, an initiative that assists regions across the country as they advance entrepreneurship and accelerate high impact startups and existing firms with growth potential.
"The local entrepreneurship scene is exploding with various training, mentoring and funding sources, but we want to know what startups still need," said Denny Coleman, president and CEO of St. Louis County Economic Council. "We will analyze the gaps and find ways to take a good business climate and make it truly outstanding."
The St. Louis project will identify opportunities for stimulating startup business formations and company growth by filling any gaps in the region's current entrepreneurial support system. Formulating the plan requires input from regional entrepreneurial leaders and a collaboration of public, private, academic and philanthropic communities.
"Over the last 30 years, all net new job growth has stemmed from high growth entrepreneurial companies," said JumpStart CEO Ray Leach. "It won't happen overnight, but helping young companies develop viable plans, raise funding, get their products to market, form strategic partnerships, and begin hiring staff will spark regional economic growth."
A group of entrepreneurs and regional entrepreneurship leaders received an overview of the project at an introductory meeting with Leach. The group, which met April 19, was joined by Matt Erskine, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, who visited St. Louis to help launch the program. Erskine sees St. Louis as setting the bar for other regions on how to spur entrepreneurial growth.
"St. Louis serves in many ways as a model for what is needed in 21st century economic development," said Erskine. In his address to help launch the JumpStart partnership he said, "In St. Louis, the partnerships we celebrate will help to spur new job creation and new entrepreneurial growth."
Many of the region's top entrepreneurial leaders have agreed to serve on the project's Advisory Group. Going forward, these advisors will provide data and insights, and develop program recommendations, thereby ensuring the plan takes full advantage of the region's current offerings while adding and enhancing other vital resources.
With an attractive cost of living, educated workforce and high quality of life, St. Louis County officials have a track record of attracting and retaining businesses. Now, officials are focused on growing more homegrown companies and they want to make job-creating startups a big piece of that effort.
"I want entrepreneurs to know we want them here," said St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley. "When you open a business in St. Louis, I am going to make sure you have all the tools you need to succeed."
The project is funded by the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA), State of Missouri and Economic Council.
About St. Louis County Economic Council
Founded in 1984, St. Louis County Economic Council serves as the county's economic development agency, driving growth and prosperity in Missouri. As the only economic development agency in the state to hold the esteemed Accredited Economic Development Organization from the International Economic Development Council, it provides a broad range of services through its six divisions: business development, business finance, economic development collaborative, real estate and community development, St. Louis Enterprise Centers, and World Trade Center St. Louis.