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Published: Tuesday, 11/18/2003

Growth Partnership hires consultant to assess start-ups

Toledo s Regional Growth Partnership yesterday hired Savage Consulting yesterday to assess 14 start-up firms in area business incubators.

The agency authorized up to $20,000 for the assessment by the East Toledo firm of companies that could benefit from as much as $1.6 million in state and local money for start-ups and high-tech firms next year.

The Thomas Edison Center for Technology Commercialization, in Seagate Business Center on 14th Street downtown, and EISC Inc. next to the University of Toledo campus, lost a total of $1.4 million for startup-assistance during a reshuffling of Ohio s funding for technology and small businesses.

However, growth partnership directors were told yesterday that the state controlling board is expected to approve an $800,000 grant for start-up aid Dec. 8, to be matched by $800,000 in cash and services such as staff time, office space, and professional services from organizations in an 11-county northwest Ohio region.

Eileen Granata, acting chief operating officer for the growth partnership, said about $380,000 of the state grant will go for business assistance to startup firms, including help in securing patents and financial and marketing expertise; $200,000 is earmarked for linking small businesses with university resources, and $220,000 will go for product innovation, largely arranged through EISC s facility.

Directors also learned that the agency is considering four potential managers for a $2 million seed-capital fund for fledgling businesses in northwest Ohio. An as-yet unidentified Ann Arbor firm is the front runner.

Th fund originally was to be $20 million, but the plan was downsized this year because of the weak economy and difficulty in raising funds. Ms. Granata said yesterday, the fund probably will start with about $2 million, of which Ohio has committed $250,000.

The growth partnership board s twice-postponed annual “retreat” to finalize next year s strategic plan now is scheduled for Jan. 20. Officials have pushed the daylong meeting back pending results of a study assessing the roles of the agency and other local development groups.

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