The new strategic alliance combines Flashstarts' expertise in startup and innovation with Global Cleveland's talent attraction endeavors. Officials backing the new venture also expect to deliver solutions for international entrepreneurs struggling with their immigration status.
"Global Cleveland is spreading the word about the city, while we're recruiting the best entrepreneurs we can find," says Charles Stack, CEO of Flashstarts, a technology/software accelerator and venture fund. "This program will allow us to draw talent from anywhere in the world”
The partnership also acts as a stepping stone for formation of a Flashstarts Global Entrepreneur-In-Residence (GEIR) program with Northeast Ohio universities, says Stack. Immigrant founders who apply to the program through Flashstarts will be chosen through a competitive selection process. Successful applicants then link up with a partner university in exchange for a cap-exempt H-1B visa, splitting work between the school and their startup.
"We'll offer them a spot in our accelerator program and give them $50,000 in exchange for equity," Stack says. "At a university they could be supporting an entrepreneur program, or recruiting students to the school from their home country."
Uncertainly over the Trump administration's immigration policy makes the partnership with Flashstarts a necessity, notes Jessica Whale, Global Cleveland's director of global talent and development.
"Getting proper visa status can be challenging," Whale said in a press release. "This program aligns perfectly with our vision of transforming Cleveland into an international hub of innovation.”
Proponents believe the collaboration can grow the region's job base and build wealth. Stack says the newly minted affiliation is especially unique due to Global Cleveland's robust links to immigrant brainpower.
"They have ties to countries and marketing opportunities all over the world," he says. "That's going to make what we're doing stand out."
Pending strong outcomes, the partners aim to expand their effort to universities throughout the region. Even one successful startup can create hundreds of jobs, a numbers game that heavily relies on the attraction of new talent.
"If we want to grow our employment base as a region, the way to do it is with startups," says Stack.
"Cleveland has always been a great city for immigrants. We want to continue that trend."