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06/30/2006 - Sirti Launches Growth Fund

Along with a new building (Sirti Technology Center, STC) and a new brand (Sirti – accelerating innovative companies), Sirti now has the $3 million Sirti Technology Growth Fund. The Growth Fund is based on an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant in excess of $1 million which required additional matching funds. In order to receive the EDA funds and then to make the loans, Sirti needed an administrative plan and mechanism.

At about the same time, another group was forming, the Business Development Corporation of Eastern Washington (BDC), an economic development tool to provide loan financing to startup, early stage, and emerging businesses. Their financing came from community investors and a consortium of regional and community banks. The timing was serendipitous, and Sirti and BDC formed a partnership. The BDC became the administrative and fiscal agent, and helped with the matching funds. Sirti provides the expertise to assess technology business potential and has mentoring and incubation capabilities to help technology businesses maximize their potential.

Together the partners are able to make larger loans than either organization could alone. Loans can be between $50,000 and $350,000 to start, and as the fund grows, the size of the loans can grow as well. According to John Overby, Sirti’s Director of Client Services, “the fund exists because it is a gap or bridge fund. The recipients will be ‘almost bankable’. The funds seeking company must have been turned down by a bank. These are companies who deserve help, but aren’t yet bankable.” All technology businesses seeking loans will be assessed by Sirti.

The loans are split between the two agents and the two funds – half from each fund. When the loans are made they are administratively split between the two funds, but the recipient repays the loan as a seamless, single-payment per period.

The technology company seeking funding must have a solid and comprehensive business plan with pro forma budgets and a solid management team. The company must have a marketable product or service. They must be able to state how the loan will help them change; how it will help them grow; and how getting the loan will help them become profitable. The loan should help the technology company become “bankable.” “This isn’t a speedy process,” says Overby, “these are not simple loans based solely on credit scores. The Fund is to help with the growth into profitability for companies who need to grow – who need funds to implement growth. The recipient must prove they know the business, and there must be indications of profitability.”

The Sirti Technology Growth Fund is a regional fund covering ten counties in Eastern Washington. These counties include Benton, Franklin, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Whitman, and Spokane.

The technology company who is not quite ready for a loan from the Growth Fund can get other help from Sirti by becoming a Sirti “accelerator” client. In addition to the companies housed in one of the two Sirti buildings – Sirti and the Sirti Technology Center – Sirti extends its services to off-campus clients. Sirti will help these clients build solid business plans, create marketing plans, create logo’s, Web sites, and collateral material. They will help with publicity, especially by coaching the client how to “get to the press.” According to Linda Hemingway, Sirti’s Director of Market Development and Communications, “In the ten-county area, there may be companies perching just under the radar screen that are essentially unknown. We hope some of these will come to us, even if they don’t need money, because Sirti can help them in many ways.”

To learn more about Sirti – accelerating innovative companies, visit www.sirti.org/.

Billie Moreland
 
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