Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lucas County buying into a venture fund?

Lucas County Commissioners have an expenditure on their agenda today to take $125,000 out of the Economic Development Fund and give it to the Lucas County Improvement Corporation so they can give it to Rocket Ventures, a venture capital fund run by the Regional Growth Partnership.

Venture capital funds are not considered 'safe' investments for public funds and are not one of the authorized vehicles for county investments. Perhaps that's why they want to funnel the money through the LCIC. But, according to news coverage of the proposal, it appears that the Commissioners, not the LCIC, will be getting the vote in the venture capital fund and will be getting any profits from the investments.

So, whether they funnel the money through the LCIC or not, this is a county investment and is intended as such.

So how can they do this when it's not authorized by the Ohio Revised Code?

And why would the RGP want to interject politics into their venture capital fund? Because that's exactly what will happen if you let local politicians participate in the funding decisions. Already Comm. Tina Skeldon-Wozniak is asking how companies are selected for funding. Knowing local politicians, they will insist upon all kinds of irrelevant criteria (green policies, living wages, etc...) when it comes to disbursing funds, as they've done in the past. And other members of the group may be intimidated by the appearance of power such politicians possess. It's happened before, so I see no reason to expect anything different with this decision-making group.

I'm a big fan of Rocket Ventures, as I believe it's a needed and well-managed fund that is contributing to the success of local entrepreneurs. I do not want it 'tainted' by local politicians who are too used to providing funds as a means of controlling decisions. And our local politicians have certainly not demonstrated any level of expertise when it comes to economic development, so I do not trust their 'decisions' when it comes to allocating any of the venture capital.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

There you go again, bringing up that pesky Ohio Revised Code thing when one of our commisioners wants to do something "good" or "nice" with the $350,000 burning a hole in their pocket.

I am sure in the end though, that Pete and Tina can come to some kind of agreement, with Pete getting less than he wants and Tina getting more. That way they can get both to pass over the hurt feelings of young Ben, whose generousity was recently overruled.

As for the ORC, it isn't really a law anyway, is it? Couldn't they look at it as more of a guideline?

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