$62 million private fund launches to help Colorado businesses grow

By: Katherine blunt katherine.blunt@gazette.com
July 8, 2014 Updated: July 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Civic-minded Colorado Springs companies have the chance to land sizable investments from a private equity fund that was launched Tuesday in Denver.

About 20 Colorado investors pledged $62 million to create the Colorado Impact Fund, which will provide capital for businesses that promote the welfare of communities throughout the state.

Managed by an affiliate of Vestar Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, the fund will finance investments in 10 to 15 companies over the next five years. Each company will receive $2 million to $6 million, according to Jim Kelley, co-founder of Vestar and founder of the Impact Fund.

Kelley will meet with members of the Colorado Springs business community Thursday to get a feel for which area companies meet the fund's investment criteria.

"We don't want this to be just for the Denver-Boulder metro area," Kelley said Tuesday. "We're interested in finding businesses we can back and invest in throughout the state. Colorado Springs has a lot of real entrepreneurial talent."

The fund's management team wants to invest in fast-growing Colorado companies that offer promising investment prospects. To be considered for funding, a company must generate at least $2 million in sales each year and promote community health, natural resources conservation, education or economic development. Kelley said the team will consider candidates from all industries and sectors.

"We're looking at things that contribute to making our Colorado communities healthier in a general sense," he said.

In addition to Colorado Springs, the fund's management team is considering investing in Fort Collins, Pueblo, Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs, among others areas.

The fund's 17-member advisory council includes leaders from Vectra Bank, Anschutz Investments, the Colorado Health Foundation and Celestial Seasonings.

Kelley said fund's long-term future has not been determined.

"The goal is to make three to four good investments every year for the next four to five years," Kelley said. "Then we will see where that puts us."

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