JES - Ignite Erie EventIgnite Erie™ as an economic development strategy was first conceptualized in November 2013 when the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority and 26 of Erie, Pa.’s leading innovation agencies co-hosted  Ignite Erie: A Day of Innovation.

The one-day event brought together more than 350 entrepreneurs, educators, policy makers, and elected officials. Subject matter experts, including Richard Bendis, founder and president of Innovation America and Ray Leach, founding CEO of Jumpstart Inc.  led dialogue about the future of inner-city investment and innovation-based economic development.

The results are changing Erie’s economy.

In 2014, ECGRA rolled out phase two of Ignite Erie: a three-part, $6 million funding strategy, which draws on outcomes from Ignite Erie: A Day of Innovation and economic development best practices related to the role small businesses, universities, and metropolitan regions play in the growth of the economy.

Ignite Erie’s $6 million phase two funding is:

  • Utilizing small business development as a tool to catalyze new resources in inner-city neighborhoods and commercial districts suffering from blight and disinvestment
  • Inspiring meaningful partnerships between Erie, Pa., colleges, universities, and industry
  • Accelerating intellectual property-based products and technology transfer to companies through industry+university and venture partnership models
  • Providing Erie, Pa., companies access to new and hybrid financial products at the micro-finance, debt, and venture capital levels
  • Leveraging private investments
  • Creating jobs through investments in the region’s small businesses

Since 2014, ECGRA invested $200,000 in inner-city small business development through partners Bridgeway Capital Inc.  and the Urban Erie Community Development Corporation . 

In 2015, ECGRA invested $750,000 in the Ignite Erie Industry+University Business Acceleration Collaborative and committed $5 million in mission-related investments to:

In 2018, ECGRA invested $800,000 in the Ben Franklin TechCeleratorBridgeway Capital's Inclusive Erie Fund, and the International Institute of Erie and committed $3.75 million in mission-related investments to:

To learn more, contact one or more of ECGRA’s Ignite Erie partners, above, directly.

Ignite Erie


An impact investing organization, ECGRA's mission is to empower the nonprofit sector, municipal governments, and economic development agencies to revitalize Erie County.  ECGRA is endowed with local share gaming revenue from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania via the Horse Race Gaming Act.  Local share gaming revenue is an assessment of the licensed gambling industry in Pennsylvania.