Creative Solutions to Develop New Products, Community Assets, and Businesses
Ohio University's Innovation Center founded the LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network (LIGHTS) to catalyze the creation of companies creating high-wage jobs, and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The Appalachian Regional Commission funded the program in 2016 to provide direct entrepreneurial assistance to startups; assist communities in deploying their own makerspaces and business incubators; and convene, facilitate, and mentor regionally-led entrepreneurial ecosystems. In 2019 Shawnee State University expanded the program with the LIGHTS-INC (Inclusive) initiative, helping support post-recovery-to-employment opportunities through entrepreneurship and workforce services with partnerships among recovery service providers, entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders, and workforce professionals. Today, the LIGHTS hosts 10 Innovation Gateways delivering entrepreneurial and workforce development programs across 26 counties and 3 states.