Editor’s Note: This story is part of a month-long series that highlights 31 ideas included in the “Mansfield Rising” plan. The 67-page document was created by 15 local leaders after attending the South by Southwest Conference last March in Austin, Texas.

Solidify an entrepreneurial alliance

MANSFIELD — In the past year, Mansfield’s existing entrepreneurial alliance has led to events like the inaugural Richland Idea Audition. 

The ‘Mansfield Rising’ plan proposes that this alliance be solidified to further enhance the resources available to local self-starters and to ultimately build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

The plan recognizes that Mansfield already has a decentralized foundation of resources, but says it lacks a collective strategy.

“Through a well orchestrated aggregation of existing resources, Mansfield can become the face of innovation in north central Ohio, ‘Startup Mansfield,'” the plan says.

The city’s entrepreneurial alliance formed a few years ago as a result of the Richland County Foundation’s economic development plan. A resource map was developed and the group collaborated to present the Richland Idea Audition last October, a pitch contest where more than 30 entrepreneurs presented their ideas to a panel of judges.

The event’s winners included three locally owned startups, ‘My Health, My Mammo,’ JKR Guitars and Aspire Technology.

In the short term, the ‘Mansfield Rising’ plan highlights a need to map resources, to identify programming duplicates and gaps and to build a digital presence. It notes Tech Life Columbus as an example. 

Meanwhile, it suggests creating a strategic plan for Startup Mansfield, balancing localized strategy with potential leveraged growth.

The plan lists two goals. 

1. To double entrepreneurship programs and events, using best practices from “Start up Communities” by Brad Field to include marquee events, culture building, speakers and avenues to capital. 

2. To pursue “leveraged growth” through partnerships with high growth organizations.

Specifically, the plan recommends that Startup Mansfield partner with Jumpstart in Cleveland to extend their Core Cities program and leverage the city’s location to partner with Smart Columbus to pilot programs that they do not have time for or would like to expand. 

The creators of the plan believe an entrepreneurial alliance could attract young talent and drive an increase in annual net business creation rate by five times over the course of 10 years. Richland Vital Signs estimates this rate, which is seen as a key measure of entrepreneurial activity and a leading indicator of area GDP trajectory, currently sits at 0.05 percent annually.

Join us for a live discussion of the “Ideas of March” series and the “Mansfield Rising” plan on Thursday, April 4. 

Click here to learn more

Cost: The cost is anticipated to be $9,500 for the first year, with $3,500 for a basic website and artwork and $6,000 per year for consistent updates, newsletters and maintenance. 

Additionally, funds for robust programming and engaging partnerships would cost about $50,000 annually. 

Partners: Idea Works, Braintree Business Development Center, Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, The Ohio State University at Mansfield, North Central State College, Stellar Robotics, Fab Lab and independent initiatives like TEDx Mansfield, Red Mystic Studios, Mansfield Makerspace, Richland County Foundation and Richland Idea Audition. 

Timeline: The timeline is expected to be between six months and one year to bring the group together and to build a website. 

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