WILLMAR - After being in the works for several years, a local angel fund now has nearly $1.4 million ready to invest in private companies that have the potential for profitable growth.
Based in Willmar, the West Central Angel Fund I LLC officially began accepting applications this fall from "early to middle stage" private business ventures that need a minimum of $100,000 in investment capital.
"Access to capital is critical to economic strength in a community," said Connie Schmoll, business development specialist with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, in a news release announcing the fund.
"Financial support for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses requires funds in addition to traditional bank financing," Schmoll said. "West Central Angel Fund I was created to address this need."
The EDC's Agriculture and Renewable Energy Committee began facilitating the development of an angel fund in 2014 after hearing from entrepreneurs and investors about the need for a local investment fund.
Key organizers of the fund are Jeff Pattison, Bruce Behm, Gary Geiger and Fred Roguske.
The fund, which is part of a multi-state network of angel funds serviced by the Angel Capital Group LLC, includes a group of 27 accredited investors who vote on and approve all investment transactions.
Pattison, who is CEO of West Central Steel Inc. of Willmar, is chairman of the fund.
He said the investment team hopes to "impact the region by investing in and supporting promising, emerging companies in need of capital."
The return for the investors includes "networking opportunities for community-minded investors to learn, have fun and seek returns on their investments," Pattison said in the release.
The fund intends to make the majority of its investments in the west central Minnesota region and surrounding areas.
Schmoll said the investors are keen to fund market opportunities with "interesting technology or intellectual property that is likely to lead to a successful business endeavor."
After helping facilitate development of the fund, the EDC has stepped away from its operations and is now focused on sending "new company ideas their way for consideration," Schmoll said.
Besides providing financial capital, Schmoll said local investors are also willing to share their expertise with participating businesses.
Companies seeking investment capital and investors who would like to know more about West Central Angel Fund I LLC should go to the fund's website at www.westcentralangelfund.com.