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Fund for Our Economic Future Awards More Than $5 Million in Grants

YOUNGSTOWN, OH--June 16, 2010--The Fund for Our Economic Future today voted to award as much as $5.32 million to regional initiatives that are collaborating to implement Advance Northeast Ohio, the region’s economic competitiveness agenda.

Eight grants were made during the Fund’s quarterly meeting of its Funders Committee held at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center. The Fund is a collaboration of philanthropic organizations and individuals that have united to strengthen the economic competitiveness of Northeast Ohio through grantmaking, research and civic engagement. The Funders Committee consists of 57 members that have contributed at least $100,000 to the Fund.

Six of the one-year grants were made to regional nonprofit economic development organizations working to grow and attract companies. Each of the grant recipients will need to achieve performance milestones to receive the full grant amount. Grant recipients and the maximum amount they will receive are:

  • BioEnterprise, which helps grow bioscience and health care companies, $1.1 million
  • JumpStart, the entrepreneurial assistance organization, $1.3 million
  • MAGNET, the region’s manufacturing advocacy organization, $434,000
  • Minority Business Accelerator 2.5+, which provides business growth services to Hispanic- and African-American-owned businesses with at least $2.5 million in sales, $750,000
  • NorTech, which helps grow technology-based industries, $633,000
  • Team NEO, the business attraction organization, $825,000

“These grants will help Northeast Ohio sustain the progress made throughout the last six years to build new industries, support entrepreneurs and attract growing companies,” said David Abbott, chairman of the Fund and executive director of The George Gund Foundation. “The Fund is pleased to continue its support of these organizations, which collaborate together and with others to attract billions of dollars in investments and thousands of new jobs in the region. These grants reflect philanthropy’s strong commitment to strengthening the region’s economic competitiveness.”

Two smaller grants approved by the Funders Committee will support emerging efforts to strengthen the region’s economic competitiveness.

The Fund awarded $200,000 to a regional collaboration working to strengthen Northeast Ohio’s agricultural industry by fostering the development of fresh produce, biomass energy, horticulture, and other types of specialty agriculture. Members of the collaboration include the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wayne Economic Development Council, the Ashtabula Growth Partnership and dozens of others.

“The agriculture-bioscience industry is Ohio’s largest and this collaboration is helping dozens of small, interconnected ventures explore ways to work together and expand business opportunities,” said Kim Pesses of the Meisel Family Foundation and a co-chair of the Fund committee that recommended the grant. “While still in its formative stages, this initiative is showing great promise and the Fund wants to help build momentum and grow this important industry.”

The Fund issued a grant of $25,000 to help organize the region’s application for a federal planning grant under the Sustainable Communities Initiative being developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. The grant program will provide as much as $5 million to pay for what the federal government describes as cooperative regional planning efforts that integrate housing, transportation, environmental impact and economic development.

“The Sustainable Communities Initiative is a great opportunity to align regional stakeholders and develop a comprehensive development plan to strengthen Northeast Ohio,” said Raphael Omerza of the Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation and co-chair of the Fund committee that recommended the grant. “Such a plan fits with the goals of Advance Northeast Ohio and the Fund is pleased to join with other stakeholders in helping the region develop a strong proposal to the federal government.”

Partners in Advance Northeast Ohio collaborate to address four regional strategic economic priorities:

  • Business Growth
  • Talent Development
  • Racial & Economic Inclusion
  • Government Collaboration & Efficiency