State help to Appalachian region, OU leading to business growth

[excerpt from Columbus CEO]

July 14, 2013

To Ohio's 3,747 page, $62 billion new biennial budget, it's a drop in the financial bucket.

But to a struggling economic corner of the state, it's a world of hope.

The single paragraph which grants the Appalachian New Economic Partnership $747,366, or 1/84,083rd of the total budget, is thought to be southeast Ohio's gateway to economic prosperity.

The money goes to Ohio University, the budget reads, "to link Appalachia to the new economy." Think of it as a giant kickstarter, designed to foster entrepreneurial spirit by building new companies and growing existing ones.

"The big picture is about improving the quality of economy of this part of the state," said Mark Weinberg, director of OU's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

Through ANEP, the Voinovich School has been able to develop a number of entrepreneurial efforts. Among them, it's helped build the Center for Entrepreneurship, which links the College of Business and the Voinovich School.

Another crowning achievement is the emerging influence of TechGROWTH Ohio, which combined with the state government and Ohio University created an investment powerhouse.

The program's success in the five years since ANEP helped fund its creation is startling. Thanks to TechGROWTH Ohio, for every dollar the state invests, businesses have generated more than $10 in economic returns.

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