Thursday, April 16, 2009

Adventure Capital

And then there's this:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that he expects the new funds to put nearly $4 million into the hands of new or expanding businesses...

The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority will run the Pittsburgh Entrepreneur Fund, which will start with $1 million in federal money and may soon be boosted to $2 million, Mr. Ravenstahl said. Geared toward start-ups in the information technology, life sciences and environmental industries, it will be able to lend against intellectual property, like patents, unlike existing URA business development programs.

Guidelines aren't final, but it will probably lend as much as $200,000 for around five years at interest rates that will depend on the level of risk involved...
Which is all fine and good and everything. I mean, it's nice to see that the City is taking an active interest in developing technologies in the Region. Two points, however:

First, not to disparage my fellow City Bureaucrats, but is the URA really in a position to judge "winners"? Put simply, you're (hopefully) going to have a bunch of entrepreneurs out there applying for these loans, the nature of which may not be immediately understandable to an organization that's comfortable with giving conventional loans. Is the URA going to be able to underwrite these loans correctly, or are they just throwing darts at a wall.

(For the record, I'm in favor of dart throwing.)

Second, the phrase "guidelines aren't final" stuck out in my mind, mostly because Hizzoner is announcing a new program, in the way that I'm announcing my brand new deck... which still is missing railings, stairs and a floor. Why do I think that the guidelines will show up mere days after the primary election and then be forgotten about forever?

Oh: cynicism, that's right.

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