Press Releases
11/18/2011

Training the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio through Blackstone LaunchPad

Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Burton D. Morgan Foundation Commit $3.2 Million to Train Ohio’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Blackstone LaunchPad Expanded to Four Colleges in Northeast Ohio 

Cleveland, November 18, 2011 – The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced today a $3.2 million, three-year partnership to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio.  The grants – to Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College – will expand Blackstone LaunchPad, a groundbreaking initiative that gives university students and alumni the skills, knowledge, and guidance to start new companies.  Blackstone LaunchPad replicates and implements a program developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 65 start-up ventures, 120 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,000 student participants. In 2010 the first Blackstone LaunchPad was opened at two schools in Detroit.  Blackstone LaunchPad programs will be up and running in Northeast Ohio in early 2012.

Funding for this program is made possible through The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s $50 million, five-year Entrepreneurship Initiative and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s commitment to invest in organizations and institutions that foster entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio.  Influenced by the urgent need for job growth in the United States, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation seeks to support innovative projects and catalytic ideas that can accelerate start-ups, job growth and economic activity.

Blackstone LaunchPad is an innovative program that presents entrepreneurship as a viable career path and offers students, faculty and alumni concrete tools and guidance to transform ideas into thriving businesses.  Unlike traditional college programs available to a very limited population, Blackstone LaunchPad is open to all students, regardless of major, and engages local entrepreneurs to mentor students.

In 2010, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation brought the LaunchPad model to Walsh College and Wayne State University in Detroit – an area struggling from the collapse of its predominant industry.  After nine months, 319 students are involved in the program with 110 having completed initial venture proposals.  Based on the early success of the Miami and Detroit programs, President Obama’s “Startup America Initiative” recently acknowledged LaunchPad and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation committed to expanding it to five new regions over the next five years.

Northeast Ohio was chosen as the next region for a Blackstone LaunchPad because of its critical need for new jobs and its dedication to supporting entrepreneurship, particularly at the collegiate level.

As partners in implementing Blackstone LaunchPad in Northeast Ohio, Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, and Lorain County Community College will expand existing entrepreneurship and support programming and offer students access to an extensive network of mentors, experts and services. The four institutions will be strategically linked to facilitate administrative oversight and venture coaching. Collectively, these four campuses reach more than 70,000 students. The Northeast Ohio LaunchPad could create 150 businesses over the next five years and generate over 3,000 direct jobs.

“Our economy needs the kind of immediate, fast-growth activity that only comes from entrepreneurs.  Fostering a new generation of entrepreneurs is critical to America's recovery, which is why we are investing in Blackstone LaunchPad to help young entrepreneurs harness their talents and transform creative ideas into viable companies,” said Blackstone’s Chairman and CEO, Stephen A. Schwarzman.
   
“Northeast Ohio has made great progress reinventing itself by returning to its entrepreneurial roots,” said Deborah D. Hoover, President & CEO of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation. “Blackstone LaunchPad will fill a gap by linking fledgling entrepreneurs to practical tools and experienced mentors to champion novel business ideas through venture formation and ultimately to the marketplace. We are investing in Blackstone LaunchPad to help demystify entrepreneurship as a career path, spur start-ups for Northeast Ohio, and build a vibrant regional economy where young people want to work and live.”

“As part of my ongoing effort to make Ohio more jobs-friendly, I am delighted to see a program that will bring innovation and entrepreneurial activity to our state,” said Ohio Governor John Kasich.  “LaunchPad will bring new energy and hands-on support to Ohio’s future entrepreneurs. Thanks to Blackstone and the Burton Morgan Foundation for bringing their expertise and resources to help jumpstart a new generation of entrepreneurs in the Buckeye State.”

“Small businesses create almost two-thirds of new jobs in the American economy. That’s why it’s so important to give start-up support to our best and brightest young minds,” Senator Sherrod Brown said. “The Blackstone LaunchPad program will help provide the necessary resources to young entrepreneurs at Baldwin-Wallace, Case Western, Kent State, and LCCC to create 21st-century jobs and spur economic growth in Northeast Ohio. I’m thrilled that The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation have recognized the strong entrepreneurial spirit present here in Northeast Ohio, and I welcome their generous investment in our students.”

“Innovative programs, like LaunchPad, help fuel the creation of new businesses that will call Northeast Ohio home.  It is what we need not only to create jobs, but to create tomorrow’s “job creators.” I hope that through encouraging entrepreneurship and giving our young people the skills to succeed in business, our communities will recover from a tough economic downturn.  I thank the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for generously partnering with our universities to bring this initiative to our district,” said Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge.

“It is inspiring to see this latest expansion of LaunchPad in Ohio, and I look forward to seeing this program and others like it take root and grow around the country," said John P. Holdren, Assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “Working together, we can leverage America’s centers of higher education to support entrepreneurship and create new engines of innovation and economic growth.” 

“We are grateful to the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for its ongoing collaboration with The LaunchPad and to the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for its support in expanding the Blackstone Launch Pad program to Northeast Ohio,” said William Scott Green, Dean of Undergraduate Education at the University of Miami and Co-Founder of the Launch Pad.  “This new chapter means that, through the Blackstone LaunchPad program, the distinctive approach to entrepreneurship education developed at The Launch Pad can now benefit students in six other universities, two in Michigan and four in Ohio. We are humbled and excited to anchor and work with this network of superb and diverse institutions.  For the University of Miami, to be able to help students elsewhere in the nation to find their entrepreneurial path and help build America's future is a meaningful educational achievement.”

About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of The Blackstone Group’s Initial Public Offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. (For more information, see www.blackstone.com/CharitableFoundation.htm)

About The Burton D. Morgan Foundation

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is a private foundation established in 1967, whose mission is to strengthen the free enterprise system by investing in organizations and institutions that foster the entrepreneurial spirit.  The Foundation supports entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education at the youth, collegiate, and adult levels.  With a 360-degree view of entrepreneurship education programs and their intersection with entrepreneurship activity across Northeast Ohio, the Foundation has a vantage point that allows it to link ideas, people, and opportunities to advance entrepreneurship.  The Foundation is involved in building an ecosystem of organizations that work together to build a rich and productive entrepreneurial culture in Northeast Ohio.   (For more information, see http://www.bdmorganfdn.org/)

About Baldwin-Wallace College

Founded in 1845 in Berea, Ohio, Baldwin-Wallace College maintains its commitment to prepare contributing, compassionate citizens for an increasingly global society. While the academic program is rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, B-W students regularly apply what they learn through internships, field experiences, study abroad and community service. B-W offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and is noted for its business, education, neuroscience and sustainability programs as well as its Center for Innovation and Growth. The college’s Conservatory of Music is internationally respected and home to the Riemenschneider Bach Institute and the nation’s oldest collegiate Bach festival. B-W also offers graduate study in business and education as well as certificate and professional development programs. (For more information, seehttp://www.bw.edu/)

About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is one of the country’s leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, the university offers a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Its leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Case Western Reserve University’s nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 4,200 undergraduate and 5,600 graduate students comprise its student body. (For more information, see http://www.case.edu/)

About Kent State University

Kent State University is Northeast Ohio’s leading public research university with more than 42,000 students. The university’s eight-campus system is among the largest regional systems in the country. Today, Kent State has become an engine for economic, cultural and workforce development – locally and internationally – as one of the premier Ohio universities. Kent State is ranked as one of the world’s top universities by Times Higher Education of London and one of the best national universities by U.S. News & World Report. The university also is ranked among the nation’s 77 public research universities demonstrating high-research activity by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (For more information, see http://www.kent.edu/)

About Lorain County Community College

Established in 1963, Lorain County Community College is the first community college in Ohio with a permanent campus.  For 48 years LCCC has served the diverse needs of the greater Lorain County region by providing affordable access to higher education, and now represents Ohio’s fastest growing college serving more than 17,000 students each year.  The role of the College has broadened within the community, positioning LCCC as a regional leader not only in education, but in economic, cultural, and community growth—the four cornerstones of Lorain County Community College’s mission.  LCCC is working hard to accelerate businesses to enhance regional competitiveness, a priority which the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) helps drive forward.  GLIDE was developed in 2001 through a partnership between government, the private sector and higher education and its primary function is to support entrepreneurs and companies to retain and create good jobs in Northeast Ohio.  GLIDE has advised more than 2,600 entrepreneurs and incubated 50 companies-right on LCCC’s campus.   (For more information, see http://www.lorainccc.edu/

Contact:

The Blackstone Group: 
Christine Anderson
Public Affairs 
212-583-5263
christine.anderson@blackstone.com

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation:
Deborah D. Hoover
President & CEO
330-655-1660
dhoover@bdmorganfdn.org 

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