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Venture capital trade group is bringing its HQ to Lorain
CLEVELAND, Ohio — State development leaders see Ohio possessing two of the three ingredients essential to launching businesses: ambitious entrepreneurs and incubators to guide and house them.
What the system lacks is venture capitalists, people with the money and desire to invest in a fledgling company and help it grow.
Many are hoping a partnership taking shape at Lorain County Community College will start to fill that void and begin to produce a crop of Ohio VCs.
A national venture capital trade group will announce today that it’s establishing its headquarters at the college’s business incubator and will work with professors and administrators to design courses for aspiring investors.
The National Association of Seed and Venture Funds will set up an office at LCCC’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, with the blessing of the state Department of Development, which is providing a $60,000 grant to start the partnership.
One of the association’s first projects in Lorain will be to organize its annual conference, which will bring a few hundred venture capitalists and development officials to Cleveland next October. But Jim Jaffee, president and CEO of the association, has bigger plans.
“What we see is an enormous need for education of investors,” said Jaffe, whose association counts about 600 members in 43 states and several nations.
Jaffe said he’s excited about working with the college to create workshops and classes designed to raise the skill level of local investors. He said that could enhance their decision-making ability and confidence, sparking more and better investments.
“We know from our webinars, there’s an appetite for this,” he said.
Lisa Delp, an entrepreneurship expert for the Ohio Department of Development, said the results could create jobs that stay.
Ohio business people and investors have more good ideas than investors to fund them, Delp said. And while the state attracts capital from everywhere, out-of-state investors often want a young company to move near them.
Thus the need for local VCs.
“We need to grow our own,” Delp said. “We just need to get more people into the game, really.”
Jaffee said he became familiar with Ohio and its growing entrepreneurial ecosystem while sizing up the state for his group’s annual conference.
He met Roy Church, the energetic president of Lorain County Community College, who introduced him to the Lorain incubator and extended a warm welcome.
Jaffe said Ohio is probably in the forefront of early-stage investment, primarily due to the Third Frontier program, and is ready for the next step.
He expects to be on campus and ready to join the effort early next year.