Press Releases
01/31/2012

Blackstone Accelerates Growth, an Innovative, Maine-focused Entrepreneurship Program names John Voltz as Executive Director to lead the efforts to encourage entrepreneurs and spur innovation across Maine

January 31, 2012 – Today, Blackstone Accelerates Growth, a statewide initiative involving the Maine Technology Institute, the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and the University of Maine, announces the completion of its national search and the hiring of John Voltz as its Executive Director.

A resident of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, John joins the initiative from Jane Capital Partners, a San Francisco-based corporate advisory and merchant banking firm, where as a principal, he spent the past decade advising entrepreneurs launching and expanding their businesses and multi-national corporations seeking investment and partnership opportunities. Of special interest to Blackstone Accelerates Growth has been John’s success forging strategic partnerships and leveraging his network of contacts to facilitate the growth of companies. Prior to Jane Capital Partners, John’s experience was in corporate finance and analysis.  In addition, John has served as a speaker, thought leader, and panelist at venture capital and clean technology events internationally.  John has a B.A. in Biology from Grinnell College and a MBA in Finance and Marketing from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. 

“Our search for an Executive Director attracted many high-caliber candidates who were inspired by the chance to help grow Maine’s innovation economy,”  said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Foundation, which has funded Blackstone Accelerates Growth as part of its $50 million Entrepreneurship Initiative. “We are thrilled that someone of John Voltz’s caliber is willing to lend his extensive experience and talents to advance the job creation goals of this important program.”

“We are extremely pleased to announce that John will be stepping into the role of Executive Director of Blackstone Accelerates Growth,” said Betsy Biemann, member of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth Search Committee and MTI President, on the announcement. “We have been hard at work for the past four months setting the course of this ambitious three-year initiative and we are thrilled to have someone with John’s experience and leadership talent to take the helm.”

“I see tremendous potential here in Maine,” added John Voltz. “Innovation can have a big impact. There is a lot to build on and a lot more to do – it’s very exciting.”

Blackstone Accelerates Growth was launched in October, with the announcement of the approval of a $3 million grant by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. The initiative aims to help Maine transition to an innovation economy that supports sustained economic growth for years to come. With a goal of helping Maine companies add an additional 10,000 skilled jobs over the next 10 years, this initiative will establish regional hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship which will serve as catalysts to propel new and existing businesses to greater levels of profitability and job growth.

Blackstone Accelerates Growth will help Maine tackle the challenges that a rural geography and historically slow growth present its existing companies.  By bringing a network of proven entrepreneurial services to companies in regions across the state, high potential companies and entrepreneurs will receive skills training, mentoring, and coaching services.  Over time, this will build a critical mass of thriving companies throughout Maine. 

The initiative is housed at the Maine Technology Institute (MTI), and involves the Maine Center for Entrepreneurship Development’s Top Gun entrepreneurial development program and the Innovation Engineering program at the University of Maine. 

Since its launch in October, the initiative has already awarded 37 scholarships to students from the University of Maine in Orono, Augusta and the University of Southern Maine. In January, these students began their studies in Innovation Engineering, the special curriculum designed to engage students interested in entrepreneurship and business creation.  The initiative’s first two regional Innovation hubs have been launched in the greater Portland and the greater Orono/Bangor regions and plans are underway for a summer internship program involving students from the University of Maine system and selected private colleges across the state who will work with Initiative companies.

How it works:

Blackstone Accelerates Growth will help Maine tackle the challenges that a rural geography and historically slow growth present its existing companies. By bringing a network of proven entrepreneurial services to companies in regions across the state, high potential companies and entrepreneurs will receive skills training, mentoring and coaching services. And college students interested in entrepreneurship will receive scholarships and intern positions in these growing companies.  Over time, this will build a critical mass of thriving companies throughout Maine.

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation:

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of The Blackstone Group’s Initial Public Offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see http://www.blackstone.com/CharitableFoundation.htm.

Media Contacts:

Betsy Biemann, 
Maine Technology Institute, 
(207) 582-4790, 
bbiemann@mainetechnology.org

Don Gooding, 
Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, 
(207) 774-8110 
dgooding@mced.biz

Jake Ward, 
University of Maine/Innovation Engineering, 
207-581-2201, 
jsward@maine.edu

Christine Anderson, 
The Blackstone Group, 
(212) 583-5263, 
Christine.Anderson@blackstone.com

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