Despite the name, the City of Canton's Entrepreneur Launch has no intention of landing a homegrown version of Bill Gates on the Moon. It's all about jobs.
Derek Gordon, project manager for the city, would love to discover the next Diebold or Timken, but he will be satisfied giving seed money to a startup that is likely to create new jobs. The program, which is part of the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network, has $100,000 in grants for a company or companies with the most promising business plans. The funding mechanism for the program is Community Development Block Grants provided by the state.
Canton's mayor, William J. Healy II, had the initial idea for the program, which he hopes will stimulate jobs. While no one has claimed any of the money yet, the application process only opened last month. The project's website is administered by ystark!, which Gordon describes as "the premiere young professional organization in Stark County."
Joe Schauer, the outgoing chairperson of ystark!, serves as chairman of the Launch Commission, which was established in June. The commission, comprised of community members, local entrepreneurs, the Chamber of Commerce, Canton's department of development and others, is responsible for selecting the winning application/s.
The city plans to replenish the fund every year. "We'd like to pair the public money with private funds and have a nice chunk of change available for those interested parties," says Gordon. "We've been very pleased with the coverage we've received, but it's now up to the applicants to determine the interest level."
Applications, which are first reviewed by JumpStart, can be found at www.cantonlaunch.org.
Source: Derek Gordon, City of Canton
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney