Grand Opening of Kent State’s
Blackstone LaunchPad Program
Kent State University held a grand opening of its Blackstone LaunchPad program on Friday, Sept. 28, celebrating the establishment of the entrepreneurial initiative at the university.
The launch celebration started in the morning with a formal dedication event in room 204 of the Kent Student Center. Joining Kent State President Lester A. Lefton in delivering remarks was Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro, Burton D. Morgan Foundation President and CEO Deb Hoover, Erik Lisher of Blackstone and Julie Messing, executive director for Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Kent State who oversees Kent State’s Blackstone LaunchPad.
Later in the day, Kent State faculty, staff, students, alumni and the general public were invited to attend an open house that took place at the Blackstone LaunchPad office on the first floor of the Kent Student Center, beside the University Bookstore.
Kent State’s Blackstone LaunchPad program emphasizes entrepreneurship as a viable career path and gives Kent State students, faculty and alumni the skills, knowledge and guidance they need to start new companies. The program, which accommodates all students regardless of major, and involves local entrepreneurs as mentors, started offering services to students in late May.
“Faculty and staff should see what Blackstone LaunchPad offers,” Messing said. “It is more than just advising entrepreneurs on the startup of their business. It is a safe place to discuss ideas without judgment, and receive the guidance and networking to help transform those ideas into businesses.”
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, sponsors of the initiative, committed to a $3.2 million, three-year partnership with Kent State University and three other area colleges and universities to make the Blackstone LaunchPad program possible. Both foundations hope to foster entrepreneurship and job growth in Northeast Ohio through the program.
Messing said that to get started with the Blackstone LaunchPad program, Kent State faculty, staff, students and alumni can complete the personal profile form that is on the program’s website, after which they get validated and invited to submit a venture form and establish meetings with venture advisors.
“We want to emphasize that the Blackstone LaunchPad program is a free and confidential service,” said Kate Harmon, program manager for Kent State’s Blackstone LaunchPad program. “Students, faculty, staff and alumni can be reassured that their business concepts are kept completely confidential by LaunchPad staff. All LaunchPad staff, including student employees, sign nondisclosure agreements to uphold this level of confidence.”
Harmon said that Blackstone LaunchPad clients can schedule meetings at their own pace with the program’s venture advisors who will mentor them through the development of their businesses and introduce them to a network of leading industry entrepreneurs. One-on-one entrepreneurial guidance is also supplemented with Blackstone LaunchPad events and workshops that broadly address common start-up business concepts and highlight local entrepreneurs in specific industries.
Find more information about the Blackstone LaunchPad program at Kent State.