Stark Community Foundation Invests $385,000 in Economic Development

Stark Community Foundation recently awarded $385,000 in grants in support of three county-wide economic development initiatives.

“As a community foundation, one of our funding priorities is economic development because we believe it is the catalyst to addressing the root cause of social problems within communities,” said Mark J. Samolczyk, president and CEO of Stark Community Foundation. “Our 2017 research study, Strengthening Stark, provided a clear picture of the current economic and social health of Stark County and has since spurred a county-wide community conversation. Now, the Foundation is continuing its commitment to economic development by making a significant investment in three initiatives that have the power to strengthen and shape our community’s future.”

The three county-wide economic development initiatives led in part by Stark Economic Development Board include the Stark Entrepreneurship Alliance Program, the Innovation District and the Strengthening Stark Economic Competitiveness Plan.

A three-year grant of $165,000 will support the Stark Entrepreneurship Alliance Program, a virtual network assisting early-stage, start-up and small to medium size businesses in Stark County. The Alliance provides business consulting, equity or debt financing, management recruiting, product innovation and legal and accounting services.

A three-year grant of $120,000 will help hire JumpStart to run and operate certain programs in the Innovation District, a 12-block district in downtown Canton powered by ultra-fast internet and a technology incubator. JumpStart’s team will offer advice and mentoring to entrepreneurs, hold events and workshops and provide a suite of services for area startups and small businesses including a 12-week intensive business assistance program.

A two-year grant of $100,000 will support the implementation of the Strengthening Stark Economic Competiveness Plan, a shared economic development plan aimed at transforming Stark County from a smaller, older and poorer community into a larger, younger and more prosperous community. Funding will help pay for expenses associated with the implementation of the county-wide plan.

“We’re fortunate to have many individuals, families, businesses and foundations like Stark Community Foundation who are part of an active movement to strengthen Stark County through economic development,” said Ray Hexamer, CEO of Stark Economic Development Board. “We value our partnership with the Foundation and are looking forward to working together to ultimately improve the quality of life for residents in Stark County today and for generations to come.”

About Stark Community Foundation
Stark Community Foundation is the community’s trusted partner in giving to nearly 750 individuals, families, businesses and organizations that have created charitable funds to impact the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. Ranked in the top 10 percent of community foundations in the United States today, Stark Community Foundation is committed to serving donor needs and strategically addressing local issues. The Foundation and its family of donors have granted nearly $160 million to nonprofits since 1963. Learn how you can simplify your giving and amplify your impact through our Center for Partners in Philanthropy at

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