Local groups seek ‘Angel Partners’

ST. MARYS – Hoping to spur growth and development in the business community, the Pleasants County Development Authority and the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce have developed the “Angel Partners” initiative.

The two business-minded entities are hoping to develop prospective private investors, Angel Partners, willing to consider investments in small, start-up businesses.

Jim McGoldrick, executive director of the development authority, said the idea is to find additional funding avenues for small businesses.

“We are looking for investors willing to invest small sums of money for start-up businesses in Pleasants County,” he said.

McGoldrick said Angel Partners are under no obligation to commit to an investment.

“Participation in Angel Partners is not an obligation,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to review potential investments and for the investor to choose one they would like to pursue.”

Investments through the Partners will vary by need.

The Angel Partners isn’t a substitution for bank loans for small business, but another source of capital, said Jody Murphy, executive director of the chamber.

McGoldrick said Angel Partners can step in where needed.

“There are a variety of reasons why an Angel Partner can be valuable to a start-up business,” he said. “Sometimes, for example, banking regulations won’t permit a financial institution to make a loan it would like to make and an Angel Partner can.”

In addition to the direct benefits of a loan, the Angel Partners program can be an opportunity to provide other assistance to start-up businesses.

“For example, a new business owner may welcome the input of a seasoned individual who has insight into the challenges and opportunities a business may face,” Murphy said. “If the parties agree, they could have a financial arrangement, as well as consulting one.”

Investors with money in the bank are seeing a minimal return on funds, Murphy said. With the Angel Partners initiative there’s an opportunity to receive a larger return on an investment.

“By becoming an Angel Partner, investors have the opportunity to make a little more money on their investments as well as help a new small business owner and the county’s business community,” Murphy said.

Small businesses who approach the Chamber or the Development Authority seeking funding present their idea and business plan to officials. McGoldrick and Murphy will review the plan and take it to prospective investors participating in the program.

McGoldrick said if an investor is agreeable to the idea or expresses interest, officials set up a meeting between the two parties to discuss the avenues such a partnership could take.

“This is an attempt to connect people who want to start a business with those who might want to invest in one,” McGoldrick said.

“We want to make this work,” Murphy said. “But at the end of the day, it’s between the business owner and investor. We are just trying to facilitate additional opportunities to bring and create businesses in Pleasants County.”