Positive economic impact in Appalachia

Ryan Mapes
Endeavor Center manager, Business Development Network program leader


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OSU South Centers Endeavor Center in Piketon affects economic growth by supporting business development, writes Ryan Mapes, center manager and Business Development Network program leader.


Having grown up in southern Ohio, I’ve experienced firsthand the proud, hard-working people of the area throughout my life, but as industry has left over the past few decades, work isn’t always easy to come by as the Appalachian region suffers from higher-than-average unemployment rates. Ohio State and our community partners are working together to change that trend.

In 2005, the OSU South Centers opened the Endeavor Center, a 27,000-square-foot business incubator with 20,000 square feet of rentable office space and a training facility with 3,000 square feet of classroom space.

The facility was envisioned and developed through community-university collaboration. The two shared a vision to provide access and support to businesses in the economically distressed community.

The center provides new and emerging businesses professional office space in flexible configurations, access to advanced technology, business-to-business networking opportunities and access to free expert business consulting.

Over the course of a decade, the Endeavor Center has helped local businesses create more than 2,500 jobs and retain 10,000 more, adding to the local community almost $200 million of direct economic activity, which is significant in this part of the state. Our clients have been able to claim more than $110 million in sales increases and over $87 million in capital infusion, which includes loans approved, grants obtained and other funding opportunities.

“The Endeavor Center provides us a place to pool our resources. The visibility and convenience is unmatched. We wouldn't be where we are today without the Endeavor Center.”Butch Stall, manager, Innovative Solutions, one of Inc. magazine’s top 50 fastest-growing companies in 2008

Community collaborations

Before the Endeavor Center opened in 2005, community partners and collaborators, including the newly established Endeavor Center Council, shared in creating a vision for the future success of the facility. We continue to share responsibility for the direction and vision of the Endeavor Center through the Endeavor Center Council today. This group, consisting of both private- and public-sector partners, meets semi-annually to offer input on the current economic conditions and business climate of the region, evaluate new development and training opportunities and serve as a marketing voice for potential clients.

As a result of this public-private partnership and guidance of the council, more than 30 business partners have leased office space in the Endeavor Center for a year or more. Currently, we house 18 individual businesses occupying 24 office spaces. Thirteen partners have graduated to facilities outside the Endeavor Center, three of which have built new facilities.

Two clients have been recognized by Inc. magazine as among the 50 fastest-growing, privately held companies in the United States. To date, more than 20,000 people have attended one of the numerous business seminars, workshops and networking sessions held in the center’s classrooms.

Building relationships with community partners and clients is key to the success of our operations. Knowing what resources are available and being able to link our clients to those resources is our recipe for success.

“The assistance provided by the Small Business Development Center counselors at the Endeavor Center has played a key role in the development of our business strategy — enabling us to make informed, accurate assessments of our markets and the resources required to meet the needs of potential customers in those markets. Our business continues to grow rapidly, even in difficult economic times, and we are very excited about new opportunities in the future.”Craig Lund, owner of Value Added Business Services and a 2012 graduate of the Endeavor Center business incubator

As has been the case throughout the Endeavor Center’s history, future plans continue to focus on the growth of successful activities and expansion of new programming that meets community needs. Regular communication between community and university partners will identify regional needs and emerging trends, allowing the Endeavor Center to adapt to the ever-changing business climate. As a native of this area, it is continuously rewarding to collaborate with our community partners to strengthen the southern Ohio economy. 


About the author

Ryan Mapes
Ryan Mapes - mapes.281@osu.edu
Endeavor Center manager, Business Development Network program leader

Ryan Mapes joined the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at OSU South Centers as a business development specialist for the Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in March 2008. In 2014, Mapes became the manager of the Endeavor Center and program leader for the Business Development Network team. He holds a degree in business management from Fairmont State College and a Certified Business Advisor Certification from the University of Toledo. He also is a Small Business Administration Certified Trade and Export Counselor.

In 2014, the Endeavor Center received the University Outreach and Engagement Award, Ohio State’s top honor for outreach and engagement programming, and served as the university’s nominee for the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

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