Controlling Board OKs $3M for Valley Growth Ventures

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With the Ohio Controlling Board releasing $3 million Monday, Valley Growth Ventures LLC could begin providing grants for technology-based startups by late summer.

In April, the Ohio Third Frontier Program’s Pre-Seed/Seed Plus fund Capitalization Program approved the $3 million for Valley Growth Ventures, a partnership of the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. and Youngstown State University.

The venture capital fund will provide money for technology startups.

“We are able to make investments throughout the state but the specific focus is on northeastern Ohio,” said Barb Ewing, YBI chief operating officer.

The venture capital fund has more than $6 million. With the release of moneys, the partners hope to begin funding startups in late summer or early fall, she added.

“We start building out the program right away,” Ewing stated. “We are thrilled about this opportunity.”

An investment committee – consisting of partners with knowledge and experience about early-stage investment in technology-based businesses — and fund manager Ernie Knight evaluate the startups’ requests.

The state panel also approved a $92,767 Regional 166 loan for a company in Warren, Color 3 Embroidery Inc., to buy new equipment.

The 166 loan approved for Color 3 supports the $206,150 purchase and installation of four embroidery machines. JP Morgan Chase Bank is providing an additional $92,767 to the company’s $20,616 in equity.

The equipment would enable Color 3 to serve new clients, expand business and position it for future growth, according to the funding request. Color 3 has committed to retaining 20 jobs and adding five as a result of the 166 loan, which will have a rate of 3.25% and a term of five years.

“The company has an experienced management team, positive cash flow and increasing sales,” according to the documents. MVEDC, which manages the Regional 166 program, reviewed and approved the loan.

“Connecting small businesses with the resources they need to expand and create new jobs ultimately helps strengthen the entire local economy here in Trumbull County,” said state Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-64 Warren. “Color 3 Embroidery Inc. is a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit that is the hallmark of the Mahoning Valley.”

The president and CEO of Color 3, Traci Miller, could not be reached for comment.

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