How $2.6M will help Dayton entrepreneurs build ‘innovation economy’

A $2.63 million Ohio Third Frontier award to The Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton will give a  boost the region’s start-up companies, according to Scott Koorndyk, president of the center.

The state money is matched dollar-for-dollar with a local match and the center expects to add about 70 new companies to its portfolio, creating an estimated 248 new jobs and bringing an estimated $12 million in external capital to the region, according to the center’s application.

The money, part of the state’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program (ESP), was awarded in February and will help start-ups grow, said Koorndyk. It can be used to assist with legal, tax and accounting services, as well as access to mentors. He said previous awards have already made a difference in the region.

“Look at the pace of start-up activity and the ability of this community to rally around start-ups,” Koorndyk said.

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Before it first obtained the Third Frontier funding in 2017, the center would see about 20 promising start-up companies a year, he said, which together could bring in about $2 million in venture capital funding.

That has grown to about 45 start-ups capable of raising venture capital, which in 2018 totaled $26.5 million, Koorndyk said. The center’s ESP portfolio now includes 63 active companies.

The Entrepreneurs Center is a technology accelerator and business incubator located at 714 E. Monument St. in Dayton and founded in 2000.

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The entrepreneurs center uses the money to connect the start-up companies with third-party providers who give marketing support, web site development, legal help with patents and other assistance. It also connects the start-ups with the center’s entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors.

“That mentorship program is the centerpiece of our ESP program,” Koorndyk said.

Battle Sight Technologies, one of the companies in the entrepreneurs center, has received some of the ESP funding in the past.

“Specifically, the funds went to some prototyping, legal services and our revamped website. We have nothing but great things to say about the program and how it has been managed,” said Nick Ripplinger, company president and co-founder. “The money is great but the entrepreneur-in-residence support has been far more valuable.”

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Ripplinger also is a member of the Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board.

The center administers the Third Frontier funding for the state’s West Central region, which includes Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Preble, Clark, Champaign, Shelby and Darke counties.

The Ohio Development Services Agency administers the voter-approved Third Frontier bond funding. An independent evaluator rates applicants and awards are made by a state commission that includes Bruce Langos, a former Teradata executive. Koorndyk said he is especially pleased by praise from Langos.

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“The recent funding provided by the Third Frontier Commission to The Entrepreneurs Center is a clear indicator of the continued confidence and support the center has from the commission for the tremendous ecosystem it has built in support of our region’s entrepreneurs,” Langos said via email on Friday. “The center continues to be one of the region’s best assets.”

It won the Third Frontier money in 2017 after funding was pulled from the Western region in 2015 when the Dayton Development Coalition, which ran the program starting in 2007, was unable to resolve concerns over how effectively the money was spent.

The Entrepreneurs Center also offers other small business services and is heavily involved in efforts to commercialize military technology. Koorndyk said those missions, combined with the Third Frontier-funded program and work by the center’s partners, create an “effective and efficient” small business culture in the Dayton region.

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“You don’t start a company like this to make $14 an hour. These are higher-wage jobs. They are jobs that create jobs. There is a multiplier effect with these companies,” Koorndyk said. “And so I believe it’s got to be a hallmark of our innovation-economy moving into the next century.”

To apply for Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program funding


By the numbers

$2.63 million: Ohio Third Frontier grant to The Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton

248: Estimated new jobs created by state grant funding

$12 million: Estimated external capital brought to the region by the state grant funding

Source: The Entrepreneurs Center

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