October 19, 2021

Professors Motoyama and Van Maasakkers Receive Burton D. Morgan Foundation Grant

Motoyama and Van Maasakkers receive Burton D. Morgan Foundation grant to support research that will identify and analyze the strategies, growth patterns, and local systems of high-growth firms in Northeast Ohio.

A team of Ohio State professors, including two planning faculty, have received a research grant of $80,000 from Burton D. Morgan Foundation. The recipients of the grant are Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning Tijs Van Maasakkers, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning Yasuyuki (Yas) Motoyama, and Assistant Professor Sehun Oh at the College of Social Work.

The grant will support a research project that will identify and analyze the strategies, growth patterns, and local systems of high-growth firms in several counties in Northeast Ohio. While the industrial rust belt region of Youngstown, Akron, and Canton has suffered population decline since the 1980s, preliminary analysis by the researchers uncovers that the region still hosts hundreds of rapidly growing firms in various industrial sectors. The team will focus on high-growth firms that have doubled their revenue within three years with ending revenue of more than $1 million.

Mattijs van Maasakkers has conducted research and published on sustainable development in cities and regions, community engagement, and civic initiatives related to vacant land. Broadly, his findings point to the significance of robust participation, careful process design, and deliberate consensus building. Yas Motoyama has previously worked on research about high-growth firms in Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Montana, and found that those firms were able to achieve growth not only through their internal strategic and marketing positions but also through local support resources and individuals. The collaboration of Motoyama and Van Maasakkers combines expertise in the analysis of the intersections between commercial, community, and communication factors at work in local systems. Sehun Oh contributes to this project by adding his expertise in workforce development. In total, the team’s research will seek to understand what kind of people and skills are desired by high-growth firms, particularly from the policy perspective.

Deborah Hoover, President and CEO of Burton D. Morgan Foundation commented, “We are intrigued to see the results of Ohio State University’s exploratory research of high-growth companies in Northeast Ohio. We anticipate research findings will help to identify gaps and suggest practical solutions that will inform the efforts of the region’s scaleup initiatives including Scalerator NEO and other programs aimed at bolstering the region’s economic competitiveness.”


Based in Hudson, Ohio the mission of Burton D. Morgan Foundation is to champion the entrepreneurial spirit, contribute to a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, and serve as a leader in the field of entrepreneurship education. Morgan Foundation pursues its mission to foster free enterprise through grantmaking in support of Youth, Collegiate, and Adult Entrepreneurship; through regional ecosystem-building to provide strong networks for startups and scaleups; and through knowledge-sharing bolstered by its research arm, the Entrepreneurship Education Experiment.