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Fort Lewis College receives $748K federal grant for ‘Build to Scale’ program

Money will support entrepreneurship and small business development
(Courtesy of Fort Lewis College)

The U.S. Department of Commerce granted Fort Lewis College $748,624 for its “Build to Scale” program’s Venture Challenge, an annual entrepreneurial effort meant to drive technology-based economic development overseen by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

“We are so proud to have received Build to Scale funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration,” said Steve Elias, dean of the School of Business Administration. “In a sense, this federal funding provides proof-of-concept for what we are trying to accomplish through the Center for Innovation.”

The Build to Scale program consists of two challenges, the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. The Venture Challenge “seeks to leverage regional competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship and fostering inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship support models,” according to a prepared statement released by the federal Commerce Department.

The Capital Challenge provides capital support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks and investor training programs with the goal of increasing access to capital in areas where risk capital is in short supply, according to the Commerce Department.

The department distributed $36.5 million to nonprofit groups, colleges and institutions of higher learning, state governments and other organizations launching entrepreneurial endeavors across 26 states.

“The Build to Scale program strengthens entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country that are essential in the Biden administration’s efforts to build back better,” said Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo. “This work is critical in developing the innovation and entrepreneurship our country needs to build back better and increase American competitiveness on the global stage.”

The organizations that received money through the Venture or Capital challenges, including FLC, will receive more matching funding “from a variety of private and public sector sources,” the Commerce Department announced. The money is to be invested to support aerospace, agricultural technology, bioscience, and advanced manufacturing and health technology across the states with the end goal of creating a more resilient economy.

For FLC, the grant money will be used to help launch businesses, create jobs, raise investment capital and retain regional businesses, which falls into alignment with the mission of the college’s innovation center, Elias said.

“This funding is similarly significant in that it will help support our commitment to Native American entrepreneurship and small business development,” Elias said.

The money will provide access to information, programming and targeted mentoring that will allow businesses and entrepreneurs to launch new companies or strengthen current ones.

“Services and solutions will address all stages of business development,” said FLC spokeswoman Lauren Savage in a written statement. “The project will build and strengthen a regional pipeline of more qualified and diverse business professionals and entrepreneurs, ultimately resulting in more high-wage jobs and a more resilient regional economy.”

2021 Venture Challenge grant recipients
  • 36 Degrees North Co., Tulsa, Oklahoma, $374,608.
  • Ada Jobs Foundation, Ada, Oklahoma, $583,153.
  • Arizona Commerce Authority, Phoenix, $750,000.
  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $657,622.
  • Automation Alley, Troy, Michigan, $1.3 million.
  • Bioscience & Technology Business Center, Lawrence, Kansas, $1.5 million.
  • Center for Advancing Innovation, Bethesda, Maryland, $944,730.
  • Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cincinnati, Ohio, $1.5 million.
  • City University of New York, The City College, New York, New York, $750,000.
  • Discovery Partners Institute, Chicago, Illinois, $1.5 million.
  • Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri, $1.5 million.
  • Fort Lewis College, $748,624.
  • FuzeHub, Albany, New York, $753,546.
  • Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia, $1.3 million.
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland, Maine, $749,815.
  • Launch New York, Buffalo, New York, $750,000.
  • LaunchBio, Dallas, Texas, $750,000.
  • Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, $1.5 million.
  • Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, Louisville, Kentucky, $750,000.
  • Maryland Clean Energy Center, College Park, Maryland, $750,000.
  • MATTER, Chicago, Illinois, $1.3 million.
  • Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, $742,787.
  • Ohio Aerospace Institute, Brook Park, Ohio, $750,000.
  • Rev1 Ventures, Columbus, Ohio, $1.4 million.
  • Shenandoah Community Capital Fund, Staunton, Virginia, $750,000.
  • Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, $749,334.
  • Texas Research and Technology Foundation, San Antonio, Texas, $715,479.
  • University of California-San Diego, San Diego, California, $929,492.
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $750,000.
  • University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas, $1.5 million.
  • Washington Technology Industry Association, Issaquah, Washington, $315,005.
  • Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, $749,175.
  • Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, $750,000.
2021 Capital Challenge grant recipients
  • Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Brattleboro, Vermont, $250,000.
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $400,000.
  • Dimension Mill, Bloomington, Indiana, $399,650.
  • Elevate Ventures, Indianapolis, Indiana, $400,000.
  • Emerging Prairie, Fargo, North Dakota, $224,628.
  • Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, Erie, Pennsylvania, $325,320.
  • Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Fresno, California, $400,000.
  • Idea Foundry, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, $250,000.
  • Innovation Marquette Enterprise Corporation, Marquette, Michigan, $305,465.
  • NOLA Business Alliance, New Orleans, Louisiana, $400,000.
  • NXTUS, Wichita, Kansas, $350,000.
  • Startup Tucson, Tucson, Arizona, $297,990.
  • TechTown Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, $400,000.
  • Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, $346,079.
  • Tulsa Community Foundation, Tulsa, Oklahoma, $266,805.
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, $333,084.
  • University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, $400,000,


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