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Nationally Recognized Minority-Focused Startup Accelerator Coming to Akron



Press Release updated: Feb 4, 2020

​​​Bounce Innovation Hub, GAR Foundation, Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the City of Akron and the Greater Akron Chamber announced today their partnership with MORTAR, an accelerator and business development service for historically marginalized entrepreneurs.

MORTAR was founded in 2014 in Cincinnati and is a 15-week program that helps both existing and aspiring entrepreneurs learn the fundamental elements of business ownership and build a comprehensive business canvas. A primary goal of the program is to launch businesses that contribute to local economic development and establish a path to generational sustainability and wealth. It has been credited by Essence Magazine with helping Cincinnati become the fastest-growing economic power in the Midwest for minority small business owners.

“It is incredibly important that entrepreneurs who haven't seen themselves represented in the entrepreneurial landscape receive access to the tools and resources that their business counterparts have been given for years,” said William Thomas, co-founder of MORTAR.

Applications are now open, and the program starts in April. The cost is $295 for the 15 weeks with an 18-month alumni program to follow. The program will be facilitated by the Bounce staff, led by Ace Epps, director of inclusive entrepreneurship. It's the second track of Bounce’s GROW program.

“I've been helping individuals grow their businesses in Akron for over 10 years. As a business counselor and facilitator of entrepreneurial classes, I think it's a monumental time in Akron for small business owners,” said Epps.

By targeting underserved and redeveloping communities, the team will be able to offer non-traditional or historically marginalized entrepreneurs the opportunity to use their talents to not just make a dollar but to positively participate in the rise of Northeast Ohio.

“From the beginning, I have envisioned and positioned Bounce to be a dynamic hub of activity serving entrepreneurs and innovators of all kinds,” said City of Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This partnership with MORTAR will continue to grow Akron’s support for non-tech and neighborhood businesses, and will engage and elevate some of our community’s most dynamic and promising entrepreneurs.”

In the spring of 2019, Bounce started looking for ways to expand programs and services beyond tech companies to also support non-tech entrepreneurs and small businesses. At that same time, inspired by the findings of Elevate Greater Akron, a number of stakeholders were also looking at programs designed to support minority-owned small businesses, which are under-represented in Greater Akron’s economy. MORTAR emerged as a proven model with strong outcomes.

The initiative is in service to the community’s collaborative spirit and with a vision for a city fueled by diverse entrepreneurs, spurred by the Elevate Greater Akron initiative. For more information and to apply, visit

Contact: Jeanine Black, 330.701.5360, [email protected]

Source: Bounce Innovation Hub

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