Cleveland Selected to Host Venture For America National Accelerator
This article originally appeared in Cleveland.com.
By Emily Bamforth
Cleveland will house Venture for America’s business accelerator this year after a bid process against Cincinnati and Columbus.
The program offers fledgling entrepreneurs co-working space, housing and a network of people and funders to help them in the early stages of building their business. The accelerator will attract 8 to 10 new entrepreneurs to Cleveland, Venture for America Northeast Ohio director Carrie Murphy said.
Applicants come from all over the country. Venture for America began the accelerator four years ago, in Philadelphia. Two years later, it moved to Detroit.
Though the accelerator program lasts only four months, some entrepreneurs stay in the city after it ends to build their business and raise funding. Just under half of the company founders stayed in Philadelphia after the accelerator. About 30 percent of founders stayed in Detroit.
Since the accelerator started, graduates have raised a combined total of $13.3 million in seed capital and have created more than 60 jobs.
Ohio’s Third Frontier program underwrote the cost of bringing the program to the state, but Cleveland had to submit a proposal to house it in Northeast Ohio.
Cleveland submitted a bid with more than 30 letters of support from business community members, including JumpStart, the City Club, the Cleveland Leadership Center, BioEnterprise and more, Murphy said. The Cleveland Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to help shoulder additional costs of the program like the salary for a full-time accelerator coordinator.
Venture for America partners college graduates interested in entrepreneurship with economically-challenged cities with growing startup cultures. This fall, 13 fellows arrived for a two-year stint working with Cleveland-area companies, according to Freshwater Cleveland.The Cleveland VFA program has welcomed 63 fellows since 2013.