Portland-based business accelerator Venture Hall has received a $475,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a large nonprofit organization based in Kansas City, Missouri, that promotes entrepreneurism.

The purpose of the grant is to help organizations that provide assistance to entrepreneurs with their efforts to promote business-friendly policies in their respective states. Kauffman chose six recipients nationwide for the grants from a large, unspecified number of applicants.

Venture Hall President Jess Knox said his organization will use the funds, to be paid out over three years, to host events and other activities that will give Maine entrepreneurs opportunities to share their stories and concerns with policymakers. Venture Hall is an educational nonprofit that supports the development and success of companies with a high potential for growth.

“We are incredibly excited by this support from the Kauffman Foundation for the Maine entrepreneurial ecosystem.” Knox said in a news release. “Through convening events, supporting deeper analyses and catalyzing conversations, we are optimistic about the positive impact this initiative will have on reducing barriers for innovators and entrepreneurs across Maine.”

Kauffman disseminated a request for grant proposals to entrepreneurial support organizations that included both for-profit and nonprofit groups.

The chosen grant recipients are expected to identify state policies that inhibit entrepreneurship, educate policymakers about the negative impact of those policies, build support for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship, and facilitate meetings between policymakers and entrepreneurs.

“This first-ever Kauffman policy advocacy (request for proposals) drew strong interest among entrepreneur support organizations,” Kauffman Policy Director Jason Wiens said in the release. “Venture Hall recognizes the role public policy can play in removing barriers to entrepreneurship so that more makers, doers and dreamers can pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.”

Venture Hall already has scheduled an event for February in Augusta that will give entrepreneurs a chance to speak one-on-one with legislators, according to Knox.


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