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Silicon Valley Investor, Codefi Founder, Others, Sign on to Sprocket 1ST$50K

Paducah, KY –Sprocket, Inc. announced today the organization has raised $57,000 privately toward the goal of relocating three tech businesses to Paducah in May, 2021.


“We couldn’t be more pleased with the progress the campaign has made during the month of November,” said Sprocket Director, Suzanne Clinton. “These commitments are from a mix of corporate and private donors, all of them entrepreneurial.”


“1ST$50K” is a competition that enables a global search to identify tech-based businesses that can scale and leverage the $50,000 investment prize offered, and then relocate to the area. Every $50,000 raised means an early to mid-stage tech business will call Paducah home. The winners are then mentored and connected to other investors and community organizations over the next year in order to improve their chances for success and contribute to the growth of a more digital economy locally.


Among those committing to the effort are Silicon Valley investor, John Woeltz, and Codefi Co-Founder, James Stapleton.


Over the past four years, Stapleton and Codefi have honed a strategy that mixes culture building with investment, workforce training, and programming that resulted in the creation of 50 start-ups, over 200 jobs, and nearly $30 million in investment in the Cape Girardeau area. Since formally launching the partnership between Sprocket and Codefi, Stapleton has been working, along with the team at Sprocket, to replicate that success in Paducah.

Stapleton has personally committed $10,000 to Paducah’s 1ST$50K campaign.

“In terms of economic development, $50K is a comparatively short runway from concept to relocated business. Frankly, Paducah has a lot going for it in terms of proximity to major cities, local amenities, and creative culture,” he added.


John Woeltz is an entrepreneur, investor, and Paducah native with nearly a decade of experience in technology startups in Silicon Valley. For the last eight years, he has been focusing on developing and growing blockchain technologies and businesses. As the Managing Director of Silicon River Capital, Woeltz plans to invest in technology startups across the region, expanding local access to resources for area entrepreneurs.


Woeltz has committed $10,000 to 1ST$50K.


“When I grew up in Paducah, there just wasn’t a clear path for me locally in tech,” said Woeltz. “After graduating from UK, I packed my bags and headed for Silicon Valley because that’s what you had to do then to succeed in the industry. I have been pleased to learn Sprocket is working to change that locally,” he said.


“What’s true now is that tech has become less centralized, and that’s good news for communities like Paducah ready to tap-in. I know from experience results can happen quickly, he added. "While my focus and interest lie specifically with blockchain technology, getting more tech-based businesses here, just in general, is how we get that ball rolling.”


Sprocket Director, Suzanne Clinton, estimates the campaign will continue through the end of December. “We’ve already secured one tech based-business, and we are going to do all we can to make that two more,” she said. “Based on the success we’ve had so far, I believe that goal is definitely within our reach.”

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