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Arch Grants Report: St. Louis startups gain traction, create jobs

The technology startup incubator in downtown St. Louis is currently home to nearly 230 businesses. About 40 others got their start at T-REX and have moved to other locations throughout the region.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Arch Grants is only 6 years old, but to date it has awarded more than $6 million in cash grants that have helped launch more than 100 companies.

Arch Grants is a non-profit organization that attracts and supports startup companies to St. Louis with its Global Startup Competition. The group released its annual report Tuesday, full of testimonials from startup founders, graphs and lots of numbers.  

74% of Arch Grants startups are led or co-led by a woman, immigrant, person of color, or veteran.

Emily Lohse-Busch is enthusiastic about the numbers and the naratives behind each startup. She’s been executive director of the venture philanthropy for one year and said the startups are beginning to have a measurable economic impact on St. Louis.

“Those companies generated more than $89 million dollars in revenue, attracted more than $128 million in follow-up capital, and created more than 1,200 jobs in St. Louis,” Lohse-Busch said, “and those are high-quality jobs in tech and in marketing and in high growth industries.”

In exchange for an award of $50,000, without taking equity and pro bono support services, Arch Grants winners must keep their businesses in St. Louis for one year. That's the only string attached to the grant. Out of 114 startups that have received a grant, nearly 90 percent have decided to stay put beyond the one-year requirement.

Thanks to the overall growth of the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem, investors from the coasts are paying attention and investing more in St. Louis startups, according to Lohse-Busch.

“Even in the first half of 2018,” she said, “I think it’s really exciting to see that we are really starting to pick up speed, particularly in the growth of our companies and what they can do.”

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