(The following remarks were given by Jonathan Whitt, President and CEO of the RBTC on Wednesday, June 29 at the ceremony to kick off renovations to the Gill Memorial Building where RAMP will be housed.)

Today is an exciting step forward for our region’s technology-focused entrepreneurs. Propelling high-potential companies to expand and create jobs in our community is the goal of RAMP, a new technology business accelerator program that is set to launch here in early 2017.

Entrepreneurs who seek to scale up their companies will apply to participate in RAMP, which stands for ‘Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program’.

RAMP stands apart to assist our region’s high potential startup companies because it is an intentional and highly focused program. Too many times, we have seen startups leave our region because they lacked what this accelerator program will offer – structured mentorships between entrepreneurs and experienced individuals in their field, access to funding that will get them beyond early stage, and business education specifically targeted to scaling technology-based start-ups.

The program’s model is based on best practices garnered from existing successful business accelerators, and will initially focus on accelerating three to five technology- focused companies per year.

Companies accepted into RAMP will work closely with multiple mentors during an intensive three- to four-month “boot camp for founders” designed to focus on building, testing, improving, validating product-market fit, and launching their product for the market. Experience is always the best teacher, and RAMP’s mentors will provide invaluable insights based on their experiences.

RAMP will operate from the top floor of this building. Virginia Western Community College will offer business education courses on the second floor where the RBTC will also maintain its Roanoke office. The first floor is now available for lease to an anchor tenant that we hope will complement the efforts of this exciting project.

As with any project like this one, there are too many people to thank but I would like to mention a few. Chris Morrill and Dr. Bobby Sandel – I would like to thank you for your personal entrepreneurial leadership – this would never have gotten off the ground without you.

I would also like to thank Greg Feldmann with Skyline Capital Strategies LLC, chair of the RAMP Advisory Board for his leadership and the members of the RAMP board:

  • Robert McAden – Rackspace and Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council Board Chairman
  • Kevin Bloomfield – Bloomfield Partners and Roanoke-Blacksburg Innovation Network Co-Chairman
  • Wayne Bowers – Roanoke Department of Economic Development
  • Sam English – Attention Point
  • Ken Ferris – Brookewood Management Advisors and Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council Advisory Board Member
  • Jay Foster – SoftSolutions
  • Hal Irvin – Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
  • Marc Nelson – Roanoke Department of Economic Development
  • Bart Smith – Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center
  • Samantha Steidle – Virginia Western Community College
  • and Carole Tarrant – Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation

And, on behalf of the RAMP team, I would like to thank Balzer Architects and Lionberger Construction for your part in the renovation of this building and for your help with today’s event.

In addition to the renovation of this building, there is still much work to do in weeks and months ahead to get ready for the launch of RAMP. We welcome support from our community to assist in the development of programs and services to be offered here. I invite anyone that has an interest in this project to contact me (or any of our advisory board members), we’d be happy to speak with you.

Lastly, I would like to thank each of you for coming out today as we commemorate this special occasion. Our community is a special place, we have an amazing future ahead of us, and this project is but one example. Thank you again for coming out today and we’ll celebrate the opening of RAMP in January.

For more info visit: http://www.ramprb.tech/

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