Twitter: @theTrimTabber

Johnathan Holifield is co-founder of ScaleUp Partners, the nation’s leading consultancy blending economic inclusion and competitiveness and building community systems to improve the productivity of underserved Americans in today’s Innovation Economy, which Black Enterprise called a “convention-bending model.” The firm has provided services to a select group of economic development and education organizations and institutions, local and state governments and national membership associations. He is a national speaker and author of the book, The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness®: How Demographic Trends and Innovation Can Create Economic Prosperity for All Americans. 


Prior to founding ScaleUp Partners, Johnathan was founding Vice President of Inclusive Competitiveness at NorTech, Ohio’s first innovation intermediary organization, where he won support for regional innovation development strategy shift to address opportunities for underserved communities and authored the Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly the Ohio Board of Regents) Statewide Report on Inclusive Competitiveness. Earlier in his career, Johnathan gained extensive experience in regional and innovation-based economic development with the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce, as its founding Vice President of New Economy Enterprise, and CincyTech, where he was founding Executive Director – both roles were firsts for African Americans in the U.S. He has also held chief executive positions with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Cleveland Urban League.


Johnathan’s accomplishments include, leading the formation of a market-leading regional innovation leadership organization, attracting support from Fortune 500 CEOs, university presidents and elected officials; raising over $40 million, leveraged to create networks of more than $250 million of early-stage risk capital, significantly increasing investment options for entrepreneurs; creating Ohio’s first information technology public school, which became a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School; and securing a $5 million appropriation to implement the state’s first STEM education and entrepreneurship program.


He has conducted workshops in several cities on Inclusive Competitiveness, promoting the narrative and inspiring material action. His leadership also has been featured at SXSWEdu and the White House, and on notable platforms, including The Case Foundation, Forbes, Bloomberg, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Post Innovations, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Huffington Post and Initiative for Competitive Inner Cities (ICIC).

Johnathan was selected to the inaugural national cohort of the ACT Foundation Aces and received Ohio gubernatorial appointments to the Midwest Governors’ Association Investments for the Knowledge based Economy Project, serving as co-chairman of the Increasing Research Capacity and Accelerating Commercialization team, and to the Ohio House and Senate Joint Commission on High-Tech Business. Johnathan has written extensively on matters of innovation development and economic inclusion and competitiveness, including co-authoring the Economic Development Journal article, Inclusive Clusters: Embedding Inclusiveness in Cluster Policy and Practice, the first national article to integrate equity, inclusion and innovation cluster development.


Serving on diverse governing and advisory boards, including Bio/Start Bio/Medical Start-Up Center, Greater Cincinnati Venture Association, The University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Council of Regional Economic Policy Advisors (Cleveland, OH) and West Virginia University Alumni Association, Johnathan is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Tau Boulé and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and a former player with the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL.


Johnathan holds a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, where he was elected football team captain, and a M.Ed. and J.D. from University of Cincinnati. He has completed additional professional studies, earning an economic development certificate from The University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.


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Video Samples of Speeches: