January 11, 2018

Venture Hall lands $475K grant to boost business startup development

Courtesy / Venture Hall
Courtesy / Venture Hall
Jess Knox, president of Venture Hall, a Portland-based startup accelerator, announced today that the nonprofit is one of six recipients nationwide of grant funding from The Kauffman Foundation in a new initiative intended to remove policy barriers hampering new business creation.

Venture Hall, a Portland-based startup accelerator, announced today it is one of six recipients nationwide to receive funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in a new initiative that's intended to remove policy barriers hampering new business creation.

Jess Knox, president of Venture Hall, told Mainebiz in a telephone interview that his organization will receive $475,000 in a three-year grant that was awarded through a competitive invitation-only RFP process.

"We are incredibly excited by this support from the Kauffman Foundation for the Maine entrepreneurial ecosystem," he said, noting that the funding will be used to build on existing programs championing Maine entrepreneurs and startups, with a particular focus being an effort to give businesses a greater voice in public policy.

Other recipients of grant funding through the Kauffman Foundation's $1.9 million initiative are in Chicago, Ill.; Kansas City, Kansas; Nashville, Tenn.; and Minneapolis, Minn.

"That, in itself, is humbling," Knox said of being among the foundation's first group of recipients. He said Venture Hall's proposal stood out for what he described as Maine's "collaborative network" of organizations that already are supporting — in a bottom-up way — Maine entrepreneurs and startups that aspired to be "world-class, high-impact" companies.

"It's a validation of the efforts being made already here in Maine, of which we're very proud to be a part of," Knox said.

Kauffman Foundation’s perspective

In a news release announcing the grants, The Kauffman Foundation characterized entrepreneurs as "the beating heart of the American economy" but noted they "typically are too busy building their businesses to make their voices heard in public policy, resulting in more barriers to new business creation and waning business startup rates."

"Entrepreneurs create most net new jobs, a key driver of the economy, but too few policymakers understand entrepreneurship or how to best support it," said Jason Wiens, policy director in entrepreneurship at the Kansas, City, Mo.-based Kauffman Foundation. "Entrepreneurs are their own best advocates but their voices are not loudly heard by policymakers. The Entrepreneurs' Policy Network will empower organizations that champion entrepreneurs to be effective advocates for removing barriers to new business creation."

As inaugural members of the foundation's Entrepreneurs' Policy Network, Venture Hall and the other grant recipients will tackle these goals:

  • Identify state policies that inhibit entrepreneurship,
  • Educate policymakers about the impact of those policies in erecting barriers to entrepreneurship
  • Build support for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship generally
  • Facilitate informational interactions between policymakers and entrepreneurs.

Knox said to kick off its new role within that network Venture Hall is sponsoring the first-ever "Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day" with state lawmakers in Augusta on Feb. 13. The day will begin with a 7-8:30 a.m. breakfast at the Senator Inn & Spa, 284 Western Ave., Augusta, that will give those attending one-on-one time with lawmakers to share insights on the barriers to new business creation and entrepreneurial success in Maine. After the breakfast, the business owners will travel to the Maine State House and have opportunities to meet with other members of the Maine Legislature.

"This is going to be a very collaborative process," Knox said of the continuing work Venture Hall will be doing as part of the Kauffman Foundation's inaugural Entrepreneurs' Policy Network.

Read more

Venture Hall dissolves, $475K grant is canceled


Type your comment here:

Today's Poll Do you support opening up more U.S. waters, including the Gulf of Maine, to possible oil exploration and development?<>
Most Popular on Facebook