YARMOUTH – On Monday, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash announced a $100,000 grant to a new partnership formed by Cape Cod Young Professionals, a Barnstable-based non-profit, and the Cape Cod branch of Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) to foster entrepreneurship on Cape Cod. EforAll is a non-profit which has had enormous success in driving inclusive entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities across Massachusetts. Over the next year, the grant will fund the launch of a new accelerator for the Cape region, a multi-week program designed to nurture the development of new businesses, and pitch events aimed at providing seed funding to founders with ideas for new businesses or social impact organizations.
“Providing opportunities for aspiring Massachusetts entrepreneurs and small business owners helps build regional economies, drive new growth and create jobs,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts has one of the most successful innovation economies in the country, and through investments in digital health, collaborative workspaces, workforce development, and small business technical assistance and expansion, our Administration is committed to ensuring every zip code in the Commonwealth has access to this rich ecosystem.”
“Cape Cod is home to incredible assets, including WHOI, a strong blue economy, Mass Maritime Academy, and now a new partnership to foster small businesses and support entrepreneurs,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are confident this program will build on the Baker-Polito administration’s investments in the region, including the inaugural round of the Seaport Economic Council Grand Challenge, affordable housing awards, and $9 million in MassWorks Infrastructure grant awards.”
In partnership, Cape Cod Young Professionals and EforAll will recruit and develop a network of local volunteer mentors who can help startups grow into sustainable businesses. At the announcement, Secretary Ash moderated a roundtable discussion with small businesses and organizations from Cape Cod which have benefited from entrepreneur mentoring and startup-focused events.
“Through these grants, the Baker-Polito administration is supporting two organizations that have proven success in building communities,” said Secretary Jay Ash. “For entrepreneurs, this means access to mentors who understand their challenges, can provide guidance and point them to the critical resources they need to grow. Our past investments have shown how this type of capacity-building can be a critical piece to building long-term regional economic impact, and we’re pleased to continue that focus here on the Cape.”
The new grant is from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s (MassTech) Entrepreneurship Mentoring Grant program, an effort that aims to develop strong ecosystems for entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth. The roundtable featured entrepreneurs that have taken part in previous mentoring programs and pitch contests organized by CCYP and EforAll. The Secretary heard from these growing Cape businesses how the programs shaped their business plan and impacted their bottom line. During the roundtable, participants noted how mentoring programs can help new businesses, but also how they help growing organizations to ‘scale up’ their operations to increase sales and expand their reach.
“CCYP is thrilled to partner with EforAll to leverage the networks of both organizations and maximum impact for entrepreneurs on Cape Cod,” said Lauren Barker, CEO of CCYP. “As an organization that works to cultivate opportunities for the Cape’s young workers and leaders, this partnership signifies a major step forward in creating the sort of business ecosystem that attracts and keeps the best and brightest minds in our region. We are incredibly grateful for the support and encouragement of MassTech and the Commonwealth as we embark on this exciting partnership effort.”
“We launched EforAll Cape Cod on July 2, 2018 and have seen early and significant success due to a combination of support from existing partner organizations like CCYP, as well as high demand for services from aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Christin Marshall, Executive Director of EforAll Cape Cod. “We’re so thankful for this support from MassTech that will directly strengthen our partnership with CCYP and accelerate economic development and social impact on the Cape"
Started in Lowell in 2010 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, EforAll is a nonprofit designed to support entrepreneurship as a means to achieving economic and social impact in communities outside of Greater Boston. Founded by noted technology entrepreneur Desh Deshpande, EforAll has received support from MassTech and the Commonwealth dating back to an initial $150,000 award in 2014 to pilot mentoring programs in Lowell and Lawrence. The success of that initial award led to an expansion of EforAll’s programs to the South Coast region around Fall River and New Bedford, a three-year effort funded by an award of $1 million in 2015. Each year of the grant, EforAll’s South Coast program has engaged over 1,000 community members, assisted 150-plus businesses, and graduated 30-plus entrepreneurs from its accelerator program, building an extensive network of program alumni in the process.
This is the second award from MassTech to CCYP, following a $50,000 grant for the organization’s Career Connect Mentor Exchange program in 2014. Founded in 2005, CCYP brings together its 1,000 members to engage on issues critical to the Cape Cod economy and to small businesses, including economic vibrancy. They also host an annual forum, called the “Shape Your Cape Summit”, which brought together over 250 attendees in 2018 to discuss ways to build a dynamic economy, how professionals can engage in local government, and issues around housing.
“Today’s award builds on the track record of success both of these organizations have had over the past few years, including CCYP’s successfully growing and engaged membership of business and community leaders here on the Cape, and EforAll’s success in growing communities of entrepreneurs across Massachusetts,” stated Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech. “We’re honored to bring these two talented groups together to supercharge the Cape’s existing entrepreneur networks.”
In March 2018, the Innovation Institute at MassTech launched a public procurement to identify proposals to “support community-based entrepreneurship by developing and sustaining support for a broad range of innovative businesses, from start-ups to those growing to scale.” In August 2018, Sec. Ash joined MassTech to announce $160,000 in grants to two Western Massachusetts organizations, Valley Venture Mentors and SPARK Holyoke (now an affiliate of EforAll). That was followed by an $80,000 award to Worcester Roots to support the development of cooperative businesses and non-profits in the Central Massachusetts region. The funding for these current grants came from the fiscal year 2018 (FY2018) General Appropriations Act. They follow three separate entrepreneur mentoring awards announced in 2014 which were funded by the 2012 Jobs Bill.
"I have seen many start up businesses in my district flourish under the EforAll program. I know how beneficial mentors and programs like Cape Cod Young Professionals and EforAll can be,” said Representative Will Crocker. “We have so many young, intelligent, and vibrant entrepreneurs on Cape Cod and I am thrilled that they will be receiving this grant. I look forward to seeing what businesses we welcome in the future because of this opportunity."