Auburn University, New Venture Accelerator, has been awarded a grant to accelerate the growth of high-quality jobs and create economic opportunity in the Auburn-Opelika region

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo recently announced that 50 organizations, including nonprofits, institutions of higher learning, state government agencies, and other organizations Entrepreneurship-focused, 26 states will receive grants to support programs that will fuel innovation and economic development.

Auburn’s grant, awarded through the US Economic Development Administration’s Build to Scale program and Venture Challenge, represents a combined federal share of $657,622 and local matching of $657,622. Cary Chandler, principal director of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation, and Lou Bifano, director of New Venture Accelerator, are the co-principal investigators on the grant.

The Venture Challenge awards grants to intermediary organizations such as accelerators, universities, community colleges, and nonprofits to support new business ventures that are scalable in nature, challenge the status quo of markets, commercialize technologies and promote job creation.

“Auburn is one of the best places to live and start a business in America,” Chandler said. “Through its proven entrepreneurship and innovation educational programs and personalized business counseling, the New Venture Accelerator and its predecessors have successfully launched more than 50 student and faculty entrepreneurs across Auburn University. These companies have received over $32.5 million in venture investment and created over 370 jobs.

“This expertise and these successes position us well to foster robust economic growth in the Auburn-Opelika region by using the EDA grant to provide unique tools and programs to the entire community.”

The grant is part of the EDA Build to Scale program, which aims to accelerate entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and start-up capital.

“Working together, the Herbert College of Business, the New Venture Accelerator, Auburn Research and Technology Foundation, the City of Auburn and others have created a dynamic and supportive entrepreneurial environment that is committed to advancing new and growing businesses,” Bifano said. “Fully funded by the Harbert College of Business, the New Venture Accelerator offers a unique combination of resources to offer the local business community, including education, skills development, mentoring, co-working space, networking opportunities and consulting expertise.”

The current entrepreneurship ecosystem at Auburn University has enabled students and employees to engage in entrepreneurship education and programming through the New Venture Accelerator. This EDA grant provides the opportunity to expand education and programming to include members of the local community.

Bifano said Auburn University and the City of Auburn encourage entrepreneurs to visit the Start in Auburn website.

Anyone interested in starting a new business in the Auburn-Opelika area or who may need help growing their business is encouraged to contact Bifano at [email protected], Chandler at [email protected] or Caitlin Myers at [email protected] org to learn more about the full range of business consulting programs and services offered by the Harbert College of Business, the New Venture Accelerator, the Auburn Research Technology Foundation, and the City of Auburn.

About Mariel Baker

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