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February 1, 2012 | last updated February 1, 2012 6:54 pm

Executive director named for Blackstone initiative

Photo/Courtesy Maine Technology </br> Institute
Photo/Courtesy Maine Technology
Institute
John Voltz

A Cape Elizabeth man is being tapped to lead a statewide effort to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in Maine.

John Voltz was recently named executive director of Blackstone Accelerates Growth, a three-year program involving the Maine Technology Institute, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and the University of Maine.

BAG launched last October, when the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced a $3 million grant to help Maine overcome its rural geography and historically slow business growth and transition to an innovation economy. The goal is to create 10,000 skilled jobs over the next 10 years.

To achieve that goal, BAG intends to create regional innovation hubs, concentrating first on Greater Portland and Bangor-Orono areas, by fostering a network of services for high potential companies and entrepreneurs. Services include skills training, mentoring -- such as MCED's Top Gun program -- and coaching services.

Maine was the first rural state to receive a grant from the national foundation's $50 million accelerated growth program. Voltz comes to program with experience in forging strategic partnerships and leveraging his contacts to grow companies.

As principal in the San Francisco-based Jane Capital Partners, a corporate advisory and merchant banking firm, Voltz spent a decade helping entrepreneurs launch and expand their businesses. He has also helped multi-national corporations seek investments and partnerships.

Voltz, who has a master's in business finance and marketing from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, has been a speaker, panelist and reviewer at international venture capital and clean technology events. He is the brother of Stephen Voltz, part of the Buckfield EepyBird team that created viral videos of Diet Coke and Mentos waterworks and cascading sticky notes.

"I see tremendous potential here in Maine," Voltz said in a statement. "Innovation can have a big impact. There is a lot to build on and a lot more to do -- it's very exciting."

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