ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud area entrepreneurs now have a new tool to help them start and grow their business. Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation President Patti Gartland says they are partnering with 16 other local entities to work with a company called "gener8tor" for the next three years. She describes them as a nationally ranked start-up accelerator that's already working in over a dozen cities in seven states and provinces.

Gartland says they have two specific programs that they will be working with them on - G-Beta and G-Alpha.

G-Beta is a free seven-week accelerator program that's offered as a training program for early-stage companies.

Gartland says the program will be very competitive and interested companies will have to apply to be a part of it.

G-Alpha is a free four-week venture creation workshop that's designed to help the entrepreneurial-minded student.

Gartland says many of our area college students have great ideas for businesses, but too many of them take those ideas and move elsewhere.

They get started here but too often are leaving our region and growing out their businesses elsewhere.  We want to help cultivate those businesses so they stay here.

She says they have very specific metrics to measure their success in a community.

They have had very impressive results.  Collectively they have raised nearly $30 million in financing to support business start-ups that have gone through the program.

Gartland says one of their goals is to have at least a third of the companies who graduate from the program raise at least $50,000 in capital a year later. 'gener8tor' is also working with other Midwestern cities like Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A kick-off event for the "gener8tor" partnership will be Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. in the former Creative Memories Distribution Center, now occupied by Cold Spring Brewing Company, on 8th Avenue in St. Cloud.