PIKETON, Ohio – An engine that runs on heated air, a gluten-free bread product, a new method to pasteurize eggs – all are ideas or new technology of Ohio businesses and entrepreneurs brought to fruition by the Ohio Third Frontier program.
Such advancements are the future of Ohio and are examples of what is possible in commercialization, job creation and economic prosperity with support from Ohio Third Frontier funding. Ohio voters will decide the future of Ohio Third Frontier with their decision on State Issue 1 on May 4. The measure, which extends the Third Frontier program through 2016, was placed on the ballot following a strong bipartisan vote of the Ohio General Assembly.
"The development of new technologies is one of the hardest types of businesses to start. It takes specialized resources and targeted assistance that you can't just get anywhere. Ohio Third Frontier has helped make those connections possible," said Meagan Barnes, an Ohio State University Extension business development specialist at OSU South Centers at Piketon.
Barnes knows first-hand what Ohio Third Frontier can do for Ohio's economic development. She and colleague Chad McDowell consult with businesses and entrepreneurs across southern Ohio through an Ohio Third Frontier effort known as the Entrepreneurial Signature Program.
Ohio State University collaborates with Ohio University in the program to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout 19 counties in Appalachia Ohio. Of the $15 million awarded to fund the program, Ohio State's share is $2.5 million.
Funding began in 2007 and lasted until February of this year, but the specialists have received a one-year no-cost extension to continue their efforts. So far, they've assisted over 170 businesses and entrepreneurs with turning ideas into realities, securing patents for new technologies, expanding business development and improving their operational capacity.
The Ohio State University/Ohio University Entrepreneurial Signature Program, known as TechGrowth Ohio, specifically targets businesses that make less than $5 million a year and employ fewer than 50 people. In addition, the funding must be used to take a new technology to market.
"Many of these individual entrepreneurs or small businesses have these great ideas or have this new technology they want to market, but don't have access to the resources or the services to take that next step. Or they simply don't know what to do to move forward," said McDowell, an OSU Extension business development specialist. "Through Ohio Third Frontier, we can help those businesses get the assistance they need."
Such assistance includes consulting work, research and development, marketing, legal assistance, access to software tools and machinery, business planning, capital investments, resource connections and partnership collaboration.
"Ohio Third Frontier catapults these businesses and individuals beyond the state of imagination and into the realm of commercialization," said Barnes. "It's all about sustaining industries and creating jobs throughout Ohio," said Barnes.
Since the Ohio Third Frontier's inception in 2002, grants awarded on a competitive basis to business, industry and universities for innovative projects have generate more than 48,000 Ohio jobs, according to an independent analysis.
For more information on Ohio Third Frontier, log on to http://www.ohiothirdfrontier.com.