Due to significant job losses in its manufacturing sector, Oklahoma City needed a strategy to diversify and boost its economy. To move the city forward and create more opportunities for innovation and technology-based businesses, EDA partnered with local nonprofit, i2E, Inc., to support their “Oklahoma City Technology Business Initiative.” The initiative allowed i2E to provide advisory and training services to area entrepreneurs to help them expand their early stage technology companies and gain access to a network of investors.
In 2010, EDA awarded i2E $1 million to fund the “Oklahoma City Technology Business Launch Program” to develop new growth services for innovators and entrepreneurs.
WeGoLook, LLC (WGL), a mobile technology company featuring a crowdsourced platform, is a very successful i2E client company that benefited from programs funded by EDA.
“We established a relationship with i2E early in the company’s history, and benefited both by its business advisory services and by i2E-led investment rounds,” said WGL CEO Ms. Robin Smith. “They helped to focus our team and introduced us to local networks that we needed to grow our business.”
Based on the success of the Oklahoma City project, in 2012, EDA awarded i2E $400,000 to fund the Tulsa Development Initiative Project which also provided expanded services to entrepreneurs, this time in Tulsa.
To date, these initiatives have created 383 jobs and attracted 100 million in private investment and are still moving full speed ahead.
Most recently, in fall of 2016, EDA awarded i2E another $199,749 to fund the Venture Assessment Program Expansion to provide entrepreneurial growth services not just in urban centers like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but to rural areas of the state. The venture program directly supports Oklahoma’s rural and Native American communities in their effort to grow small businesses and strengthen Oklahoma’s innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem across the state.
“Funding from EDA and our local partners has allowed i2E to expand its reach and create new services for entrepreneurs that were previously lacking in the Oklahoma market,” said i2E President & CEO Scott Meacham. “The focus of the funding and the flexibility of the EDA team permitted us to further develop our services and help small, start-up companies in Oklahoma to succeed. We are extremely grateful to the EDA and our local partners.”
By making innovative and technology-based businesses a priority, Oklahoma has helped commercialize new technology, create new jobs and given the state’s economy a boost.