June 26, 2011; Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch | The old saying, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,” got an added jolt of relevance recently with the creation of a new national nonprofit based on an organizational model first established in Northeast Ohio in 2004. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Jumpstart Inc., an organization that works to strengthen the impact and sustainability of Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem announced a new affiliate, “JumpStart America , which aims to raise $2 billion in the next decade for investments in promising ventures across the country.” The new organization is a member of the Startup America Partnership, a White House initiative supported by the Case and Kauffman Foundations, and has received support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.

On its website, Jumpstart Inc. highlights Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial history, singling out “icons like B.F. Goodrich, Charles Brush, and Charles Diebold,” who brought the region a reputation as “a thriving, prosperous community that was the envy of many Americans.” As in other parts of the country however, by the 1980s tens of thousands of local jobs had been cut and no new sources of economic growth were available to replace them. As evidence of this economic reversal, Jumpstart Inc. cites Cleveland’s listing as one of the bottom three cities in Entrepreneur magazine’s ranking of regions friendly to entrepreneurs from 1991 until 2003.

The Times-Dispatch points out that along with its strong entrepreneurial tradition, Cleveland’s historic wealth has been instrumental in turning the situation around. The Cleveland Foundation, which has the distinction of being the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s second largest, with assets of over $1.9 billion, was among the founding group of civic, community and philanthropic leaders that established Jumpstart Inc. in 2004. According to the organization’s website, since its founding, “Thousands of entrepreneurs have received guidance, dozens have received significant direct investments to date, and JumpStart has helped companies in Northeast Ohio raise over $100M in follow-on funding.”

As a result of federal grants, Jumpstart Inc. has already started work beyond Northeast Ohio in six Great Lakes regions, and through its new affiliate, Jumpstart America, will have a presence in all 50 states. –Anne Eigeman