Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP (Taft) is a valuable QCA partner. Since QCA’s formation over 15 years ago, we have engaged with Taft to provide a number of legal services needed by QCA. Taft has a strong presence in this region with over 400 attorneys practicing every area of law. The firm understands the business climate and is actively engaged in building the region’s entrepreneurial business climate. Recently, The Halo Effect (T.H.E.) had the opportunity to interview James M. Zimmerman, Partner In Charge of Taft’s Cincinnati operations, about the firm’s role in Cincinnati’s emerging start-up and small business scene. We also asked his perspective on how the city is doing in supporting the entrepreneurs and founders in their efforts to build businesses in southwest Ohio.
T.H.E.: Why is Taft so engaged in Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial community?
Zimmerman: We believe that a strong entrepreneurial community is critical to maintaining a vibrant local economy. We care deeply about Cincinnati, and we see this as one way that we can give back to the community by offering our expertise to help build the region’s economy. A more vibrant local economy, with more successful startups, is also good for our business.
T.H.E.: What do you see TAFT’s role in the advancement of start-ups and small businesses in the region?
Zimmerman: We’ve been fortunate to play a role in several initiatives serving startups and small businesses in the region, including The Brandery and Cintrifuse. Obviously, lots of others are involved, but we like to think that we play a valuable role in helping launch initiatives that support startups and small businesses, and in advising those startups and small businesses to help them grow and prosper.
T.H.E.: How do you see the current climate for start-ups in Cincinnati? How is the city doing in developing a culture for small businesses?
Zimmerman: The current climate for startups in Cincinnati is significantly better than it was a few years ago. There are more startups, more experienced entrepreneurs, and a lot more organizations dedicated to helping startups and small businesses than there were. The culture of the city is still a Midwestern, risk-adverse culture in general. I would love to see risk-taking continue to become more a part of our business culture in Cincinnati.
T.H.E.: From your perspective, what are the challenges that the city faces when it comes to start-ups and what is TAFT doing to help overcome these challenges?
Zimmerman: I already mentioned our conservative, risk-adverse culture that I believe sometimes holds us back. Another challenge we have is that there is a fairly small number of recent successful exits for startups and growth companies in Cincinnati. More successful exits – particularly big, high profile ones – would create more experienced entrepreneurs and more wealth to re-invest in startups! At Taft, we try to do our part by helping our startup and growth company clients grow and ultimately achieve a successful exit.
T.H.E.: What are some of the services TAFT provides that are focused on small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs?
Zimmerman: We have a lot of experience providing services to small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. Our services include helping them form a legal entity; raising a first round of financing; patent and intellectual property protection; helping with the legal side of hiring employees; venture capital and other types of financings; and the ultimate exit (sale or initial public offering).
As a supporting QCA sponsor, Taft supports QCA’s mission, which is to provide capital to early stage companies, plus ongoing counsel to maximize shareholder returns and build a stronger, regional ecosystem. QCA supports its mission by co-managing entrepreneur development programs (Morning Mentoring™ , eKickStart, and our annual Entrepreneur Boot Camp.
We appreciate our longstanding relationship with Taft and the firm’s active role and interest in building the local entrepreneur ecosystem.