Press Releases
07/19/2013

Blackstone Charitable Foundation Expands Campus Entrepreneurship Program “Blackstone LaunchPad” to Montana

Partnering with The University of Montana, Montana State University and Headwaters RC&D to Train the Region’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Helena, Montana, July 19, 2013. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation today announced yet another expansion of its campus entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, to Montana. Montana today becomes the fifth Blackstone LaunchPad region, following Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s three-year, $2 million grant will establish a partnership between Montana State University, the University of Montana and Headwaters RC&D to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide university students with a network of venture coaches and entrepreneurial support to transform new ideas into sustainable companies. With a physical presence at Montana State University and the University of Montana, Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate some 150 new ventures in Montana over the next five years.

Blackstone LaunchPad is modeled after a successful program developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 1,413 business proposals, 210 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,600 participants. Each new regional program will be linked together, drawing ideas and best practices from the existing programs, and giving student entrepreneurs at the University of Montana and Montana State University access to a national community of over 200,000 of their peers across nine affiliated campuses and expert advisers for their ventures.

“Entrepreneurship is the single most effective way to spur economic growth and job creation,” said Blackstone’s President and COO, Tony James. “We must all play a role in nurturing talent, and through Blackstone LaunchPad, students will have access to an expanded universe of resources and years of institutional knowledge, helping them launch ventures that can take root locally and strengthen Montana’s economy.”

Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana and Montana State University will foster connections between the university campus, business community, and local entrepreneurs to create an environment that nurtures young entrepreneurs and provides them the skills and network necessary to succeed. Unlike traditional college curricular programs available to limited school populations, Blackstone LaunchPad is open to all 30,000 students at the University of Montana and Montana State University, regardless of major.

Funding for this program is made possible through The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s $50 million, five-year Entrepreneurship Initiative, which seeks to target support services regionally for aspiring entrepreneurs and, in turn, the high-growth businesses and industries that are most known to spark economic growth. Due to the early success of the program, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was recognized by President Obama’s “Startup America Initiative” and pledged to expand LaunchPad to five new regions over the next five years.

What They Are Saying: A Quote Roundup:

Governor Steve Bullock said, “The Blackstone LaunchPad Program will allow students at Montana State University and the University of Montana to see real application of their ideas transformed into sustainable companies as they partner with local businesses. I look forward to the innovation and new ventures Montana will see in the coming years through Blackstone LaunchPad.”

Senator Jon Tester said, “Montanans start more new businesses than folks in any other state, and the Blackstone LaunchPad Program will help more Montana small businesses succeed. I worked hard to bring LaunchPad to Montana, and now Blackstone’s partnership with Montana State and the University of Montana will lead to new ideas, new jobs, and a stronger Montana economy.”

Senator Max Baucus said, “Montana is a small business state – in fact nearly all of our workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 20 employees. That means Montana jobs rely on entrepreneurs, striking out on their own and building companies from the ground up.  This new partnership will go a long way toward helping Montana entrepreneurs get new businesses off the ground so they can grow and create jobs.”

Representative Steve Daines said, “I know firsthand the challenges that come with getting a start-up off the ground – but I also know how exciting it is to grow a small business and create good-paying Montana jobs. This partnership between Blackstone and Montana State University and the University of Montana will help our entrepreneurs successfully transform their ideas into small businesses and allow them to put their skills and training to work here at home.”

Royce Engstrom, President of the University of Montana, said, “This investment will provide a proven platform to support creative and enterprising students across all disciplines at the University of Montana, and at our sister university, by linking them with expert advisers and peers around the country. It promises to transform students’ lives while helping the Montana economy, and is an outstanding example of education for the global century.”

Dr. Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University, said, “The Blackstone LaunchPad will be a great addition to a suite of programs at MSU fostering our students’ entrepreneurial aspirations. We are very excited about how Blackstone’s partnership will open doors for our students to a vast network of other entrepreneurial students and accomplished professionals across the nation.”

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About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation:
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’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, go to http://www.blackstone.com/citizenship/the-blackstone-charitable-foundation.

About The University of Montana:
Nestled in the heart of western Montana’s stunning natural landscape, the University of Montana is a place where top-tier students, educators and researchers from across the country and around the globe come and thrive. The University draws a diverse population to Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city, and helps cultivate an educated, engaged and vibrant community. Roughly 15,000 students attend UM and Missoula College, where they receive a world-class education in a broad range of subjects that include the trades, liberal arts, graduate and postdoctoral study and professional training. For more information, go to http://www.umt.edu.

About Montana State University:
Montana State University, located in Bozeman, is the state’s first land-grant university and has strengths in engineering, the sciences, agriculture, business and nursing as well as the humanities and arts. With a record $112.3 million in research last year, MSU is one of only 51 universities in the nation to enjoy both the “Very High Research Activity” and the “Community Engagement” designations of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Of those 51, MSU is the only institution whose Carnegie enrollment profile is “very high undergraduate.” These recognitions underscore the profile of the student graduating from MSU: one who is enthusiastic about educational opportunities, committed to research and the discovery of new knowledge, and has a profound sense of community engagement. For more information, go to http://www.montana.edu.

Contact:
Oriane Schwartzman
Blackstone
+1 212 390 2250
Oriane.Schwartzman@Blackstone.com

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