Nationally Recognized Minority-Focused Startup Accelerator Coming To Akron

Five community
institutions partner to bring MORTAR to Bounce Innovation Hub

Akron, OH (Feb. 4, 2020) —Bounce Innovation Hub, GAR
Foundation
, Burton
D. Morgan Foundation
, the City of
Akron
and the Greater
Akron Chamber
announced today their
partnership with MORTAR, an accelerator and business development service for historically
marginalized entrepreneurs.

MORTAR was founded in
2014 in Cincinnati and is a 15-week program that helps both existing and
aspiring entrepreneurs learn the fundamental elements of business ownership and
build a comprehensive business canvas. A primary goal of the program is to
launch businesses that contribute to local economic development and establish a
path to generational sustainability and wealth. It has been credited by Essence Magazine with helping Cincinnati
become the fastest-growing economic power in the Midwest for minority small
business owners.

“It is incredibly
important that entrepreneurs who haven’t seen themselves represented in the
entrepreneurial landscape receive access to the tools and resources that their
business counterparts have been given for years,” said William Thomas,
co-founder of MORTAR. “MORTAR was founded and exists to provide that access and
support, and we are thrilled to join the community of Akron.”

Applications open Feb. 4, and the program starts in early April (bouncehub.org/apply-to-mortar). The cost is $295 for the entire 15 weeks with an 18-month alumni program to follow. Payment plans are available if participants are unable to pay the entire balance at once. The program will be headquartered at and facilitated by the Bounce staff, led by Ace Epps, director of inclusive entrepreneurship. The official name is MORTAR at Bounce, and it is the second track of Bounce’s GROW program.

“I
have been helping individuals grow their businesses in Akron for over 10 years.
As a business counselor and facilitator of several entrepreneurial classes, I
think it’s a monumental time in Akron for small business owners,” said Epps.
“For these important local organizations to come together to provide support
and assistance to our minority population is an amazing opportunity.”

The
MORTAR program found success by focusing on entrepreneurs who are often
ignored, and the new program in Akron will strive for the same focus. By
targeting underserved and redeveloping communities, the team will be able to offer non-traditional or
historically marginalized entrepreneurs

the opportunity to use
their talents to not just make a dollar, but to positively participate in the
rise of Northeast Ohio.

“From the beginning, I
have envisioned and positioned Bounce to be a dynamic hub of activity serving
entrepreneurs and innovators of all kinds,” said City of Akron Mayor Dan
Horrigan. “This partnership with MORTAR will continue to grow Akron’s support
for non-tech and neighborhood businesses, and will engage and elevate some of
our community’s most dynamic and promising entrepreneurs.”

In the spring of 2019,
Bounce started looking for ways to expand programs and services beyond tech
companies to also support non-tech entrepreneurs and small businesses, such as
retail or home healthcare companies. At that same time, inspired by the
findings of the Elevate Greater Akron plan, a number of other
stakeholders were also looking at programs designed to support minority-owned
startups and small businesses, which are under-represented in Greater Akron’s
economy. MORTAR emerged as a proven model with strong outcomes.

“MORTAR at Bounce catalyzes startup activity among Akron’s black
population which is a great complement to our ongoing work through the Opportunity Akron economic inclusion initiative,” said
Robert DeJournett, VP of Opportunity and Inclusion at the Greater Akron
Chamber. “Thus, positioning the region for growth and prosperity.”

Akron-based GAR Foundation has also come forward with enthusiastic
support. “This program gives overdue attention to our community’s
minority-owned startups and small businesses, said Christine Mayer, president
of GAR Foundation. “MORTAR at Bounce will help strengthen the efforts of
entrepreneurs who are more reflective of Akron’s population.”

The initiative is in
service to the community’s collaborative spirit and with a vision for a city
fueled by diverse entrepreneurs, spurred on by the Elevate Greater Akron
initiative.

“Successful
entrepreneurial ecosystems are built upon the collaborative interactions
between entrepreneurship support organizations, philanthropy, government and
others. Ecosystems that boast strong collaboration and trust are more cohesive,
adept at meeting the needs of entrepreneurs, and capable of realizing their
potential as drivers of innovative ideas and inclusivity,” noted Deborah
Hoover, president and CEO of Burton D. Morgan Foundation and board chair of
Bounce. “Collective efforts in the Greater Akron area are bearing fruit; Akron
is a place where entrepreneurs can grow their ventures. MORTAR at Bounce will
build upon the spirit of collaboration already present so that we can all work
more intentionally to serve historically underserved entrepreneurs in the
non-tech space.”

For more information and to apply for MORTAR, please visit bouncehub.org/mortar.

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About Bounce Innovation Hub

Bounce Innovation Hub
was founded in January 2018 and is the region’s first open innovation hub
serving northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial and innovation community. Located in
downtown Akron in the former B.F. Goodrich plant, the building comprises more
than 300,000 square feet of coworking, event and meeting space and office, lab
and light manufacturing space. It also includes a creative co-op/makerspace, an
esports lab and a coffee house and café. With more than 50 organizations in the
building, Bounce accounts for more than 250 people working and creating.

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