ST. LOUIS, Mo – Following its first year in 2012, Arch Grants had helped 15 businesses get off the ground, awarding them each $50,000 dollars. On May 21, Arch Grants will welcome 20 new businesses into its program, which will give them a total of 55 business that have entered into their program.
“The founding members of Arch Grants conceived of this organization as a means to an end. They wanted small business to be involved in the rejuvenation of down town St. Louis” Ginger Imster, Executive Director of Arch Grants, said.
The businesses that have entered into Arch Grants have been responsible for 190 new jobs in the St. Louis area and $6.5 million in revenue since 2012.
Imster shared with The Missouri Times the process of applying for becoming an Arch Grants company.
“There is a request for proposals. In the past, it has been in the fall, this year it closed Feb 21. Once the application is submitted, we make sure that applicants reach the minimum criteria. We want to make sure we are looking at independently owned and operated businesses. Once we have an evaluation, we have a pool of judges that conduct preliminary evaluations. Each round of evaluation includes different details from the entrepreneur or team, each round we get more and more information.” Imster said.
Following the rounds of evaluation, the field is then cut down into finalists. This year, Arch Grants has its largest field of finalists – totaling 46.
“There is no set number of finalists, although we try to work hard an retain a 50/50 ratio. We don’t want to bring in too many finalists to make an outcome that they would receive a grant unlikely.” Imster said.
Arch Grants provides more than just funding for its companies, as several wrap around pro bono services are included.
“Any number of professional services are available to them once they become an Arch Grants company. Once you are an Arch Grant company, you are always an Arch Grant company. If there is a way we can be in service to you, all you need to do is ask,” Imster said.
One piece of legislation this session that Arch Grants is in support of is House Bill 1495 proposed by Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence, which is an effort to increase funding for the Missouri Technology Corporations. This bill also includes specifications that would increase funding in specific areas such as Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, Springfield, and two other unspecified rural areas.
“This desire to see MTC receive more funding has been the focus since I’ve been here for the dramatic impact it would have on the state. There would be a potential benefit to Arch Grants in St. Louis as the budget for the MTC would be increased.”
House Bill 1495 has been placed on the informal calendar as of May 5.
This years selected winners for the Arch Grants program will be announced May 21 and will begin with the program on July 1 of this year.