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CANTON, OHIO (January 24, 2012) – The City of Canton, in conjunction with ystark! (a department of the Canton Regional Chamber) has awarded a $50,000 business grant to Jack Hooks in the first funding cycle of the Canton Entrepreneur Launch program. The new program, conceived and launched launched last year with help from JumpStart Inc., provides grants to entrepreneurs who plan to locate new, high growth business ventures in the City of Canton. More than 60 applications were received for the very competitive inaugural funding cycle, and four finalists were invited to a formal presentation. After careful consideration and review by the Canton Entrepreneur Launch commission, entrepreneur Karl Beitzel's company, Jack Hooks, was selected for grant funding. Canton Entrepreneur Launch is designed to create organic business growth by providing grants to start-up businesses that have the potential to attract additional growth capital, create substantial economic impact and develop job opportunities within the Canton community. "We were thrilled to receive so much interest and to see such a healthy entrepreneurial spark in our region," said Mayor William J. Healy II. "This year we wanted to make a significant investment that could take a business to the next level. We believe that Jack Hooks can use this money to make great progress in their venture." Jack Hooks manufactures a revolutionary series of fishing hooks for the retail consumer market that, according to Beitzel, are "are the strongest, fastest and sharpest hooks ever made." Jack Hooks' proprietary, patent-pending, knotless hook allows professional and recreational anglers alike to attach a hook to their line in fewer than five seconds. The young company is already generating a buzz in the industry. The California Dreamin’ Series hooks were designed in collaboration with a veteran tournament angler, Marc Beyers of Norco, Calif., to meet the high demands of professional anglers in tournament competition. BassMaster's Elite Series Professional Angler Keith Poche has signed a one-year endorsement agreement with Jack Hooks and will use the Jack Hooks California Dreamin’ Series in the Bassmaster Classic tournament, held in Louisiana from Feb. 24 through 26, when he competes head to head with the world's best Pro Anglers for the 2012 Season Championship. Jack Hooks is now in the process of establishing a North American sales distribution network. Operations and production will be located in Canton. “This is my hometown and I am committed to creating jobs and value in the local economy," said Beitzel. "Growing new industry helps to keep a community healthy, and I hope Jack Hooks will contribute to that trend." The company plans to use the Canton Entrepreneur Launch grant to support an assembly operation in Canton, develop additional product inventory, and obtain basic marketing support to build up its operations until they are capable of perpetuating self-sustainable sales. Starting modestly with a handful of staffers, the company hopes to grow to 75 average-wage employees over the next five years. Those companies who did not receive funding in this application cycle will have access to additional assistance. "We are partnering with Victor Pavona and the Stark County Business Development Center (SBDC) to ensure that all applicants receive necessary business support and advisory services," said Derek Gordon, assistant safety/service director for the City of Canton. "The SBDC will continue to remain an active partner as we move forward, supporting the program by providing needed connections and continued counseling, not only to Jack Hooks, but to other applicants of the Canton Entrepreneur Launch program." The Canton Entrepreneur Launch program will begin a second round of funding later this year, and details about the next round of funding will be available online at CantonLaunch.org. All applicants also have access to the Canton Entrepreneur Launch's partner, the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network, a connected group of regional entrepreneur support organizations offering space, capital and connections to entrepreneurs across 21 counties of Northeast Ohio.

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