The Blackstone LaunchPad program celebrates its official Launch Day

Mary Kate Garvey

The Blackstone LaunchPad team, advisors, partners and sponsors celebrated the official grand opening of the program on Kent State’s campus Friday.

The LaunchPad program aims to help students, alumni and faculty start new businesses and become successful entrepreneurs.

A high hope of entrepreneurial success was apparent when presenters welcomed the program to Kent’s campus. Among the many speakers was Jim Petro, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

“There is no better training than what is being described as the Blackstone LaunchPad program to get people, young people really identifying entrepreneurial opportunities and careers that create jobs and build economies,” Petro said. “That’s what Ohio needs. This is the kind of program that Northeast Ohio is really going to benefit from.”

Deborah Hoover, president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, was excited to announce the partnership formed between her company and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

“A joint venture to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio,” Hoover said. “This program, the Blackstone LaunchPad, will transform forever the entrepreneurial landscape of Northeast Ohio.”

An open house was held on the first floor of the Student Center. Student businesses, such as Snapcessories, Laundry in a Flash and International HOME Markets were showcased during the open house for their entrepreneurial efforts.

Julie Messing, the executive director of entrepreneurship initiatives for Kent State’s LaunchPad, said she hopes to open two to four more sites at regional campuses.

“It’s an incredible place to share your ideas. It’s a safe place. It’s confidential. Your ideas will not be judged,” Messing said.

Students, such as Shanisha Collins, attended the open house while trying to start pursuing entrepreneurship ideas. Collins found out about the LaunchPad when she decided to transfer to Kent State over the summer. She created her online profile with the program a couple weeks ago.

“I would like for this program to help me narrow down and focus on my actual concept,” Collins, junior fashion merchandising major, said.

Collins said it will not be a fast process right now while she is focusing on her kids and her schoolwork.

To get involved in the Blackstone LaunchPad program, students can look for events throughout the year. Zach Mikrut, marketing and events director at Kent State LaunchPad, said the program will host events as small as a brownbag lunch to Global Entrepreneurship Week, which starts Nov. 13.

“You don’t have to have an idea or a business right now to get involved in what we’re doing,” Mikrut said. “It never hurts to get more information.”

Contact Mary Kate Garvey at [email protected].