Venture capital team visits Meeker

MEEKER -- Rural Colorado is typically not a place where venture capitalists send their money.

In 2001, the state Legislature allocated $100 million to encourage investors to look at business in the state. Six financial organizations were awarded responsibility of investing the funds.

The legislation mandates that 25 percent of those monies must be allotted to businesses in rural Colorado. The office of Economic Development and International Trade along with the Certified Capital Companies also are required to travel at least five times per year to present their information and discuss it with rural government officials, interested residents and entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, Alice Kotilik and John Reece from the OEDIT office and CAPCO representatives were in Meeker to spread the word about the program in rural Colorado.

In the three-hour meeting, Kotilik and Reece briefly described the state mission in creating the CAPCO funding, as well as other functions of the state office.

"We are committed to promoting business in Colorado," Kotilik said. "We will do everything we can to help them succeed."

John Reece said CAPCOs are authorized to provide equity, debt or various forms of financing for start-ups or businesses wishing to expand.

The CAPCOs have a huge amount of flexibility when choosing a business.

Each of the seven companies looks for different types of businesses to invest in. Some are looking at manufacturing, another for computer and software. One was specifically looking for companies that offered support to other companies. Four of the CAPCO companies typically lend between $500,000 and $1.5 million. The others lend from $100,000 to about $750,000.

Jim Eller, of Waveland Colorado Ventures LLC, said his company has invested in a rural snowboard manufacturing company and is working on a housing development in Trinidad.

"We funded a rural auto body repair and paint business for $100,000," Eller said. "These are high risk-high profit scenarios.."

He said they look at the business plan but really are interested in the management team.

"We want to know if the team is interested in growth and how well they can adapt," he said.

County Commissioner Kim Cook questioned the group about how they could promote what Meeker has to offer.

"Here you're not just talking rural ---- it's more like frontier," Cook said. "This region has an average of 2.2 people per square mile."

Cook explained the fiber optics system and the broadband capabilities in place in the region, and commented on the quality of life and the large employee pool.

"And we will have two huge buildings that are being vacated by Forest Service and BLM, which would be perfect for some sort of call center or business that use telecommunications. Can you send companies our way?" Cook said.

Most of the investors were unaware of the technology capabilities in the region and thought it was some useful information.

"In light of all the outsourcing in business, it is highly likely at some point one of us will come across a business that is looking to relocate or start-up," Jim Kenyon, Murphee Colorado CAPCO, LP said.

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