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For KeyCorp Chief Risk Officer Bill Hartmann, Serving JumpStart is Rewarding

Bill Hartmann 11.14.2016

Founded in 2004, Jumpstart has worked to strengthen the economic vitality of NEO by helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. Key’s Bill Hartmann joined the Jumpstart Board of Trustees in 2011 and shares his experience.

As he looks back on his 35-years-and-counting career in banking that has taken him around the world, from Chicago to New York to Hong Kong and then Cleveland, KeyCorp Chief Risk Officer Bill Hartmann sees a common thread. “Much of what I’ve done over the years has involved the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises, and acquisitions. I guess you could say I’m passionate about helping small businesses become big businesses.”

Driven by that passion, Bill jumped at the opportunity to serve on the board of JumpStart, the nationally recognized Cleveland-based non-profit that stimulates the economy by helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. Because new businesses haven’t had the time to establish a track record and often lack tangible assets that could be used as collateral, they generally don’t have the creditworthiness to qualify for traditional bank loans. JumpStart provides them with much-needed financing, as well as expert guidance in how to run a business.

“There are a lot of small businesses that get started and then go out of business because, while their leaders are very smart—for example they may be very smart in technology, or very smart in a field like health care—they’ve never actually run a company. So they don’t necessarily know how to put a business plan together, how to find space to rent, how to meet payroll, or how to do any number of other things a business needs to do to succeed. So the mentoring part of what JumpStart provides is very, very important,” said Bill.

JumpStart was founded in 2004 by a group of prominent business leaders, including former KeyCorp senior executive Tom Stevens. Key has continued to support the organization ever since, both financially and through the contribution of talent like Bill. In the ten years after it was established, JumpStart helped more than 1,150 entrepreneurs generate more than $1.7 billion in revenue and create more than 10,000 jobs. Overall, companies assisted by JumpStart have generated more than $3 billion in economic impact for the state of Ohio.

Shortly after joining the board in 2013, Bill helped lead the effort to create a sister organization to JumpStart called Growth Opportunity Partners to support businesses in low to moderate income neighborhoods. Growth Opps helps so-called scale-ups, meaning businesses that are ready to grow but not yet able to get funding from traditional banking sources.

Bill also praises JumpStart’s establishment of a $10 million fund dedicated solely to women and minority tech start-ups in Ohio. The public-private source called The Focus Fund has pledged $500,000 to 20 different tech start-ups run by women or minorities of African American or Latino descent, which currently receive only 3 percent of all venture capital dollars, according to JumpStart CEO Ray Leach.

Bill says it’s gratifying to volunteer his time to an organization that fits squarely within Key’s commitments both to diversity and inclusion and to helping communities thrive.

“There’s a phrase ‘spreading the peanut butter too thin’, meaning there are a lot of organizations doing good work but if you just gave to every organization without regard to mission, you may not have the same impact you would if you took a more focused approach,” Bill said. “When you think about the importance of jobs, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the Cleveland community, JumpStart falls right into one of the sweet spots that Key is trying to promote.”