Ray Leach, CEO, JumpStart Inc.

Ray Leach, CEO, JumpStart Inc.

WINNER: Financial and Business Advisory Services

Entrepreneurs imagine things as they could be, possessing a vision to create something better. The process of turning what they see into reality requires initiative, tenacity and, often, great personal risk.

That certainly describes leader and visionary Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit venture development organization that helps accelerate the successes of entrepreneurs. Under Leach’s leadership, the organization has gained recognition for its innovative model and economic impact and is one of the top-performing organizations nationally in its field.

An accomplished entrepreneur who bootstrapped two IT companies, Leach made the leap from the private sector to tackle an even bigger challenge: contributing to the turnaround of Northeast Ohio’s economy. In the beginning, he consolidated three existing organizations and developed the structure, from the ground up, of an entirely new type of economic development organization that didn’t work to attract or retain companies but instead helped to grow new ones.

Leach is applying the experience and expertise gained through work in Greater Cleveland to accelerate entrepreneurial success in other regions.

Today, with an expanding system of entrepreneurial support in Northeast Ohio, Leach’s vision and work is to make this system sustainable by building public, private and philanthropic relationships to bring national funds to the area.

Personally, not only does Leach give his time and talents to charities such as the American Red Cross, but he also devotes considerable personal time to participate in national conversations.

In serving on the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which supports the national innovation strategy to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship, and on the board of the National Venture Capital Association, Leach shines a spotlight on Greater Cleveland while advocating for the stakeholders he serves.

How to reach: JumpStart Inc., www.jumpstartamerica.org.