Business Incubation and Accelerators Significantly Add to Local Economies
Throughout southeastern Ohio, West Virginia, and across Kentucky, a series of business incubators, accelerators, makerspaces, and support organizations provide a network for entrepreneurs to start, grow, and expand their businesses. But, does the investment move the needle in the local economy? The data show that they do.
Throughout the last 15 years, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs provided economic impact data based on direct metrics from companies served by Ohio University’s Innovation Center (OUIC), the region’s premier business incubator, supported 297 jobs generating $12.9 million in salaries in Athens County alone. The 297 jobs represent a 112 percent increase in the last five years.
In a recent press release, OUIC Director Stacy Strauss attributes the increase in numbers to the rapid growth experienced by several companies currently housed in the Innovation Center, as well as rising sales and new hiring by recent incubator graduates.
“We work with tenacious entrepreneurs who are driven to succeed. They are building companies and creating jobs with wages that are significantly higher than the average rate for our area,” Strauss said. “We are just one piece of a larger network of university and regional collaborators that provide critical early-stage services to startups. These figures are more proof that successful scalable ventures are being built in southeastern Ohio.”
The LIGHTS’ network’s direct economic impact has been significant since its inception in October 2016. The system of business incubators, makerspaces, and accelerator programs assisted 199 companies creating 72 jobs and attracting over $23 million in private investment. Please see Andrea Thogmartin’s blog (https://www.lightsregionalinnovation.com/single-post/2019/05/16/Quarterly-Metrics-Review) outlining more impact.
Beyond the direct impact numbers, these programs create an entrepreneurial culture that will outlive grant source investments. Through 470 events and over 5000 attendees, progress can be slow, but steady as communities learn of the resources available and launch new ideas.
The LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted and opioid-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, uniquely matching the complex problems and opportunities facing our corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of strategically-placed Innovation Gateways. From this, new marketable products grow from these challenges through our work with locally partnered Innovation Gateways’ business incubators and makerspaces, across a tri-state 28-county area.
Ohio’s Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) program is the major state program that enables collaboration among municipalities and townships to encourage investment and job creation. Over the past few years, the JEDD program has undergone a number of significant changes that impact on its practical use.read more
I first met Dan in the fall of 2016. I had moved to Central Ohio over the late holiday season in 2015 to begin serving as the new Director of GROW Licking County CIC, Dan’s former role. I was immediately struck by many in the community who worried that I would “not be enough,” that the “shoes were too big,” and that “Dan was larger than life.” And they were right.read more
The Ohio Economic Development Association’s annual Excellence Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations in Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development. Submit your nominations today and have excellence in your community recognized statewide!
A panel of judges will evaluate the nominations, determine finalists, and select a winner for each of the categories noted below. Award winners will be announced in conjunction with the 2022 OEDA Annual Summit, being held October 3-6 at the Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin, Ohio.read more