jumpstart launches program to help scale-up companies take it to the next level

When JumpStart was created in 2003, it was formed to launch startups and give them the resources they need to get off the ground and generate new jobs. Twelve years later, as Northeast Ohio civic, business and philanthropic leaders look at the region’s economic development needs, JumpStart is seeking to help another type of small business: the "scale-up," or small businesses that have stalled yet have opportunities for growth.

“Scale-ups are companies that have been in business for at least three years but can be 100 years old,” explains JumpStart CEO Ray Leach. “It’s a company where they are in business, they have 10 to 100 employees and typically have more than $1 million in revenue, but it’s stuck. They see the potential for growth, but they are not able to solve the problems without assistance.”

After researching scale-up programs nationwide through its partnership with President Obama’s Start Up America initiative and as an outcome of the Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy, JumpStart is now launching a Scaleup Pilot program to look into ways to help struggling small businesses – in any industry.
Why is this a key industry sector? These are the companies that have the most potential for job creation, Leach stresses, but fall in the gap of being too big for startup funding and too small to scale the company up on their own.
While JumpStart has traditionally assisted tech-based start-ups, scale-ups play a critical role in the region’s economic future. Most reports indicate that small businesses are responsible for most of the nation’s jobs created over the past 10 years.
JumpStart is the lead organization in the pilot and will partner with MAGNET’s PRISM program in working with manufacturers. The two are also working closely with TeamNEO, BioEnterprise and all of the regional chambers of commerce located across Northeast Ohio.
The six-month pilot program will involve a half-dozen companies representing a variety of industries. “There are three fundamental areas for any company to grow,” says Leach. “A disproportionate opportunity to grow; increased high quality jobs; and revenue. We want to look at how we add talent to help and give them a better understanding of how to sell -- either a current product to new markets or a new product, and give them capitalization strategies.”
Leach says JumpStart is attempting to do the same thing with scale-ups as it has with startups. The three main areas where JumpStart offers assistance are with recruiting, raising capital and improving sales. “The vision of what we’re trying to do is very ambitious. We’re going to come at this in a very unique way. At the end of the day you want the economy to grow and unlock the potential.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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