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Hyperlocal funds help boost Ohio entrepreneurship

To spur economic development and create jobs in their communities, several Ohio cities have created new, hyperlocal funds that offer attractive financing to entrepreneurs that may have the next great business idea, yet lack the actual cash to implement it. The catch? They must be willing to put down roots and grow their businesses locally.

One example of a growing Ohio business that recently took advantage of such hometown love is ManuscriptTracker, a Wooster-based firm that sells web-based software that automates the peer review process for academic journals. Co-founder Brian Boyer says a $35,000 deferred-payment loan from the Wooster Opportunities Loan Fund made it possible for him to bring his product to market last year.

“We saw lots of potential to grow our business, but funding is very hard to come by for start-up software companies,” says Boyer, a Wooster native. “Thanks to receiving funding last year, we were able to develop a market version of our software, as well as sales resources such as a database, marketing collateral and potential client list.”

ManuscriptTracker’s software organizes and automates peer review tracking for busy academics that don’t have the time or resources to manage the process themselves. The stringent nature of the peer review process, particularly with scientific journals, often necessitates involving as many as 20 individuals in a single review.

“To be published in an academic journal, your work must be vetted by the research of your peers, but that means asking top researchers to set aside their time,” explains Boyer. “We simplify and organize the process and provide helpful reporting forms. We also help academics to track who in their network is quick and knowledgeable.”

With the assistance of the economic development nonprofit Jumpstart, similar hyperlocal funds have also been created in Barberton, Canton and Mansfield.

As the New Year kicked off, ManuscriptTracker had already secured one new client, and Boyer says he’s hopeful that the new software will attract additional clients soon.

By Lee Chilcote
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