Slater: Not the time to eliminate state aid

A $9 million federal grant may eventually help the Slater Technology Fund wean itself from state funding, though fund managers say they are not ready for that to happen just yet. More

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TECHNOLOGY

Slater: Not the time to eliminate state aid

Posted 10/24/11

A $9 million federal grant may eventually help the Slater Technology Fund wean itself from state funding, though fund managers say they are not ready for that to happen just yet.

Slater has been receiving $2 million from the state since 2010, when its annual funding was cut by $1 million. Richard Horan, senior managing director of the fund, said his goal is to get to a point of no longer needing state funding.

But until that can happen, “the hope would be that we can continue to maintain state support consistent with past practice or, better still, increased levels of investment,” Horan said. “Given the cost-effectiveness of the program … there is certainly a case to be made.”

But Keith W. Stokes, executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, says the $9 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative should be a major step toward Slater becoming self-sustaining. “That money [now provided annually by the state to Slater] has to go to more economic development.”

The Slater fund, created in 1997, was set up to focus on supporting entrepreneurs who had vision, leadership and a commitment to build business enterprises, providing seed-stage capital to technology-based companies in Rhode Island.

Over the years it has garnered money from entrepreneurs, businesses and government.

The $9 million will help Slater begin to expand programs, bring in more investors and start more businesses to benefit the Rhode Island economy. Slater will be able to launch 20 or more companies over the next several years, with money left over for follow-up investments in firms that are making good progress, Horan estimates.

On Oct. 3, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and others announced a $13.1 million federal award to Rhode Island to expand access to its capital-lending programs, hoping to stimulating small-business financing in Rhode Island.

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