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Miami, City of Oxford Receive JobsOhio Vibrant Community Grant for Visionary College@Elm Project


Oxford, Ohio (June 24, 2021) — Miami University and the City of Oxford will receive $1.5 million in assistance from a JobsOhio Vibrant Community grant for a startup initiative that will create more than 50 Ohio jobs, bolster a distressed rural economy, and attract new businesses to Oxford.

The College@Elm Innovation and Workforce Development Center at 20 S. Elm St. will advance ideas, inventions, and innovations with real economic value in the marketplace. It will serve as a catalyst for economic growth with the infusion of 20,000-plus Miami students, faculty, and staff into the local and southwest Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The 39,000-square-foot facility will house office space, an entrepreneurship center, startups, a workforce, and small business development resource center, a design and testing area, and space for manufacturing operations.

College@Elm will have three anchor tenants:

  • Miami, operating an Entrepreneurship Center and providing entrepreneurial support functions.
  • The Fischer Group, a Butler County manufacturing company, operating a business “innovation extension.”
  • The City of Oxford, operating a workforce development and small business resource center.

In addition to the $1.5 million Vibrant Communities award, the initiative received a $1 million jumpstart in funding earlier this year from Ohio’s 2021-2022 state capital budget. The university has raised an additional $2 million. The total cost for the renovation project is $10.7 million.

“Ohio continues to experience momentum as it emerges strong from the pandemic. The JobsOhio Vibrant Community Grant Program invests in important, transformative projects to ensure under-represented population groups and distressed communities fully participate in the economic recovery,” JobsOhio president and CEO J.P. Nauseef said. “Oxford will realize this goal, serving as an example of how developing public-private partnerships can spur job creation and revitalization of our beloved downtowns.”

A collaborative group of public and private partners

REDI Cincinnati, a private nonprofit economic development corporation, was instrumental in assisting Miami and the city of Oxford with its successful application to the JobsOhio Vibrant Community Program.

“The College@Elm project is the perfect fit for the mission of JobsOhio’s Vibrant Community program to catalyze strategic areas in Ohio communities, and I’m grateful that we are able to support this exciting project,” said Kimm Lauterbach, REDI Cincinnati president and CEO. “JobsOhio’s vision to leverage support from a collaborative group of public and private partners will be an incredible asset to Miami University, the city of Oxford, and The Fischer Group’s strategy for long-term growth. The activation of vacant buildings to further community development, business growth, and entrepreneurship is the new formula for success in economic development, and I’m proud to see it come to fruition in the Cincinnati region.”

The JobsOhio Vibrant Communities program aims to assist distressed communities’ efforts to implement catalytic development projects that fulfill a market need and represents a significant reinvestment in areas that have struggled to attract new investment. The program was first announced at JobsOhio’s public board meeting earlier this month.

“We are thrilled that JobsOhio Vibrant Community program and REDI Cincinnati recognize the tremendous value of College@Elm and have been willing to invest in its potential to elevate our community, the surrounding area, and Ohio.” Miami President Gregory Crawford said. “College@Elm will demonstrate the value of infusing young people into the local entrepreneurial ecosystems while also providing a template for how rural communities like Oxford can replicate this to advance their local economies.”

Transforming Uptown Oxford

The funding from the Vibrant Community program supports the transformation of the vacant Miami-owned building into a hub of art and science, creativity and innovation, imagination, and design.

College@Elm will leverage existing entrepreneurial activities housed in the nearby Oxford Community Arts Center to revitalize an undeveloped three-block area of uptown Oxford into a high-tech Innovation Corridor.

“The city of Oxford is excited to partner with Miami University on the redevelopment of the College@Elm,” said Jessica Greene, assistant Oxford city manager. “We know that by working together we can lead workforce development in the region and attract new businesses and create jobs in Ohio.”

The catalytic impact from the JobsOhio investment in the project is a local payroll of nearly $4 million and 79 jobs. Over a five-year period, The Fischer Group will create 51 of those new jobs with a payroll of $2 million. With more than a decade of experience in product development, machine building, unique printing and manufacturing, The Fischer Group’s College@Elm innovation extension will be its third Butler County location.

Al Fischer, president and CEO of The Fisher Group, said they are excited to operate a manufacturing innovation extension program at College@Elm.

“We basically invented the technology that de-risks and brings new products into the market at about a fifth of the time and at a quarter of the cost of what large companies do,” he said.

Expanding business opportunities

In addition to light manufacturing, College@Elm aims to develop new businesses and expand business opportunities by:

  • Cultivating innovation with a “pull” approach that collaboratively develops business start-ups and expansions utilizing existing company technology or products.
  • Intentionally connecting economic development agencies and entrepreneurs in the regional startup ecosystem with student, faculty, and alumni talent.
  • Embedding inclusive innovation throughout the innovation and business development process.

Once established, Miami anticipates that College@Elm will launch three startups a year.

“College@Elm will be the lighthouse, the beacon, for students and community members, regardless of their educational attainment, who have an idea and would like to get assistance on how to develop that idea further and make it a viable business entity,” said Randi Malcolm Thomas, Esq., ’88 and MA ’90, vice president of ASPIRE (Advancing Strategy, Partnerships, Institutional Relations, and Economy) at Miami.

About JobsOhio Vibrant Communities Program
The JobsOhio Vibrant Community Program assists in the revitalization of downtowns and main streets through targeted investments across the state. This program recognizes that distressed communities often do not have adequate resources to develop and implement economic development projects that can attract private investment and create new jobs in the community. The fund was established to assist distressed communities’ efforts to implement catalytic development projects that fulfill a market need and represent a significant reinvestment in areas that have struggled to attract new investment. JobsOhio seeks to invest in projects that leverage outside funds, encourage the utilization and formation of public-private partnerships, and identify at least one end-user in each community.

About Miami University
Established in 1809, Miami University is consistently ranked among the top 50 national public universities by U.S. News & World Report for providing students with an Ivy League-quality education at a public school price. Located in quintessential college town Oxford, Ohio—with regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, a learning center in West Chester, and a European study center in Luxembourg—Miami serves more than 21,600 undergraduates across 120 areas of study, and more than 2,500 graduate students through 70 master’s and doctoral degree programs. At this comprehensive research university, students engage and conduct research with premiere teacher-scholars. Miami adds $2.3 billion each year to Ohio’s economy through innovative partnerships and job creation. Miami is a NCAA Division I school, serving more than 500 student-athletes across 19 varsity sports. For more information, visit

About the Fischer Group
The Fischer Group is an end-to-end consumer goods company employing 300 people in its two Butler County locations. The Fischer Group takes innovative product ideas and brings them to the shelf. The Fischer Groups’s workload includes product development, machine building, manufacturing, branding, sales and marketing, fulfillment, and customer service. The Fischer Group has worked with independent innovators and built ideas into multi-million-dollar national brands as well as taking on product growth projects with Fortune 500 companies such as P&G, Hill-Rom, and Shark Ninja.

About the City of Oxford
In 1803, a college township was set aside in the almost uninhabited woodlands of northwestern Butler County. In 1810, a year after Miami University was chartered, the Village of Oxford was laid out and the first lots were sold. In the following year, the first school was built and by 1830, with a population of over 700, the Village of Oxford was incorporated. A charter form of government was adopted in 1960 and a decade later population growth had turned the village into a full-fledged city. The original boundaries of the City consisted of the Mile Square. A number of annexations during recent decades increased the size, resulting in the City currently consisting of approximately seven square miles. The City of Oxford encompasses approximately 7.5 square miles in the northwestern corner of Butler County and is home to over 21,000 people. About 47% of the population is between the age of 20 and 24 due to the strong influence of Miami University. The community’s tie to education is further demonstrated by the high educational attainment of its population 25 years old and older: 91.6% are high school graduates or higher, over half of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, approximately a third of the population has a graduate or professional degree.

About JobsOhio
JobsOhio is a private nonprofit economic development corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention, and expansion. The organization also works to seed talent production in its targeted industries and to attract talent to Ohio through Find Your Ohio. JobsOhio works with six regional partners across Ohio: Dayton Development Coalition, Ohio Southeast Economic Development, One Columbus, REDI Cincinnati, Regional Growth Partnership, and Team NEO. Learn more at Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

About REDI Cincinnati
The Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Cincinnati is the first point-of-contact for companies locating or growing in the 16-county region at the heart of southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana. REDI Cincinnati is supported by top business leaders and community partners and staffed by a team of economic development experts who are uniting the Cincinnati region to compete globally.

The future is bright, and we’re building it, right now.

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