About NEO Fund

Mission: The New Entrepreneur Opportunity Fund provides training for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and builds the skill sets of the entrepreneurs of today.

The New Entrepreneur Opportunity Fund (NEO Fund) is an Ashtabula based non-profit organization. NEO Fund began in 2011, providing training for those interested in starting a new business in Ashtabula. NEO Fund also made loans to small start up businesses.

In 2020, the role of the organization changed focus solely to entrepreneurial education. NEO Fund is now focused on training people that are interested in starting a new business and coaching small business owners that want to get better at and grow their business.

The People

Instructor and Peer Support Group Facilitator


Larry Polena

Larry is the instructor for the classes and facilitator of the Peer Support Group Programs. Larry spent 34 years in industry, including leadership positions in Marketing, Customer Service and Information Technology. Most recently, he has taught at Notre Dame College and Lakeland Community College, before joining the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Tri-C. In the 8 years he has been with the Goldman Sachs Program, he has worked with over 650 small businesses.

The NEO Fund Board


Nate Rockwell

Nate is the founding member of Briquettes Smokehouse, Bascule Bridge Grille, and 5th St. Kitchen – all located in Ashtabula, Ohio. He is a NEO Fund board member as well as a coach for NEO Fund students, Entrepreneur Capital Ashtabula borrowers and a board member to the Kent Hospitality Management advisory board. He is an extremely active member of his community and hobby farmer.


Laura E. Jones

Laura has been the Executive Director of LEADERship Ashtabula County since 2009. She has served as a Board of Trustees member and officer for many Ashtabula County non-profit organizations, including the Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County and the Ashtabula County Airport Authority. Laura is committed to civic endeavor and inclusive educational opportunities for local communities.


Alice McCarthy

Alice is co-founder at the Business of Good and owner of Cones Ice Cream Parlor & Etcetera on Bridge Street in Ashtabula, Ohio. Cones Ice Cream Parlor is part of the revitalization of the Bridge Street District.


Jim Timonere

Jim has been the City Manager of Ashtabula since 2011. He is past president of the Ashtabula Area Chamber of Commerce and Varsity Football Coach at Saint John and Saint Paul High School.


George Stouffer

George is a retired Senior Sales Executive at Huntington Insurance and President of Stouffer-Herzog Insurance in Ashtabula.


Shane Styzej

Shane is the General Manager of Briquettes Smokehouse in Ashtabula