Northern Indiana Regional Economic Planning Effort Receives Funding

ELKHART, IND., APRIL 18, 2012 – The Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth (CPEG) has provided $50,000 of funding to enable Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall and St. Joseph counties to participate in the first phase of the Regional Entrepreneurship Action Plan (REAP), a three-year initiative intended to generate economic activity across the Northern Indiana. The REAP initiative will be managed by Elevate Ventures, a venture development organization that provides support to emerging or existing high-potential businesses. The CPEG contribution is matched by funds from Magnet Investors and OrthoWorx and will provide funding through at least June 30, 2012.

“Elevate Ventures represents an opportunity for Northern Indiana to enhance its entrepreneurial ecosystem and for our community to demonstrate a commitment to local entrepreneurs whose companies have high growth potential” says Shawn Peterson, President and CEO of CPEG.

“Entrepreneurs are one of the region’s great assets,” explains Larry Garatoni and Jim Larkin of Magnet Investors, “Elevate’s engagement in the region will enhance the continuum of services for entrepreneurs and encourage them to launch and grow their businesses in Northern Indiana.”

Magnet Investors and other regional leaders raised $300,000 in 2010 to fund the community visioning and planning process that identified the need for entrepreneurial support services in Northern Indiana. The region has the opportunity to secure an additional $5 million in resources from state and national philanthropic sources. To secure these resources, the region must demonstrate a need and raise an additional financial commitment totaling $1 million over three years.

“Our region has an opportunity to draw significant resources from the State and national funders to support one of our core shared values – entrepreneurship” explains Peterson. “We look forward to seeing the results of Elevate’s work and taking the next step with them to bring these new resources to our entrepreneurs.”

Elevate Ventures has hired an experienced entrepreneur to identify high-growth companies in the region and assist them in establishing or growing their innovative businesses. “We appreciate the leadership of CPEG, Magnet and the other investors for making this support possible,” says Tim Braun the Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Elevate. “We are confident that the region will be successful in demonstrating that there is an abundance of entrepreneurs whose companies are in need of our services and are ready for investment.”

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About CPEG - The Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth (CPEG) (www.cpeg.org) represents a new effort to engage regional business leaders and promote the long-term growth and prosperity of North Central Indiana. CPEG provides the resources to successfully spur broad regional and supra-regional initiatives and face the challenges and opportunities of competing in a global economy. For more information or to join CPEG, visit www.cpeg.org.


Source: Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth

 
 
SOUTH BEND, IND., APRIL 20, 2012 - A new initiative to finance business startup and growth in north-central Indiana is raising $1 million to leverage $5 million of private and state money for development in the region.

Elevate Ventures, an agency hired last year to manage Indiana's 21st Century Fund, is leading the effort. The fund in the past two years has shifted from making grants to funding investments.

A local commitment of $1 million would bring $2 million from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and another $3 million from JumpStart Inc., which gathers money from private foundations.

"The region has the opportunity to secure $5 million for entrepreneurs in north-central Indiana," said Shawn Peterson, president and CEO of the Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth (CPEG). "It's for high-growth companies.


"This requires, though, that we first demonstrate that we have sufficient innovation here that could use these services. We have to raise $1 million as a region," with a deadline of June 30.

The entrepreneurship plan was established in recent months and CPEG, OrthoWorx of Warsaw, and Magnet Investors provided money for the first phase, to demonstrate the innovation potential, Peterson said.

"Elevate Ventures is the entity that is here conducting that project and would be the one providing the services if we are successful at achieving the funding," he said.

Tim Braun, one of two Elevate Ventures entrepreneurs-in-residence in the north-central region, said the agency provides advice as well as investment for companies.

"Elevate is both a venture development organization as well as a venture capital investor," he said. "As a venture development organization, we are keenly focused on helping entrepreneurs package their companies for investors."

The agency works with early and first-stage companies as well as second-stage companies, which have customers and revenue but aim to launch new phases, a strategy the Edward Lowe Foundation calls "economic gardening."

JumpStart, which originated in northeastern Ohio with significant support from the Knight Foundation, has similar projects in the Fort Wayne and Gary regions, covering northern Indiana, as well as Minnesota, Michigan, New York and Louisiana.

Jim Larkin, a founder of Magnet Investors, said groups like the Knight Foundation have shifted their focus from such projects as painting houses to supporting sustainable economic development.

"The national philanthropic groups are coming to the conclusion that this economic vitality issue is important," he said. "They will place very specific requirements on their $3 million."

The influx means that local angel investors, such as Magnet, can support more ventures by sharing costs with Elevate.

"If Magnet Investors sees a deal they like which is also liked by Elevate Ventures, Elevate Ventures will co-invest with us," he said.

In the past, Peterson said, entrepreneurs could go to a community bank and convince the bank to review their business plan and give them a loan for the project.

In the modern environment of regulation and limited resources, he said, "you need additional seed capital, angel investment networks to accelerate the growth of companies in what is already an increasingly global economy."

 
Source: South Bend Tribune, Gene Stowe