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Colorado Renews Partnership with Greater Colorado Venture Fund to Support Rural Businesses

On Wednesday, the Colorado Venture Capital Authority (VCA) and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced that the VCA has renewed its partnership with Greater Colorado Venture Fund (GCVF) to expand access to venture capital for Colorado entrepreneurs and startup businesses. The net result: the state is promoting statewide access to venture funding.

In fact, the VCA has committed $11,175,000 to GCVF, which has a proven track record of funding Colorado companies and creating jobs in the state’s rural communities.

The Fading West Home Manufacturing plant while under construction near the Central Colorado Airport in Buena Vista. Photo by Jan Wondra

“This exciting partnership builds upon our ongoing work to boost Colorado’s strong economy, bring good-paying jobs to Coloradans in rural communities, and support small businesses,” said Governor Jared. Polis. “As a business person, I know that every dollar counts when building a business from the ground up which is why I’m proud of our bold work to support Colorado’s innovative entrepreneurs.”

“As a state, we are committed to catalyzing private investment across all of Colorado, including our rural communities. When Colorado companies have the resources to grow, they contribute to a strong economy that works for everyone and create quality jobs,” said OEDIT Executive Director Eve Lieberman. “Partnering with the Greater Colorado Venture Fund is one important step to continue the Venture Capital Authority’s work to create more equitable access to venture capital.”

The VCA first partnered with GCVF in 2018, when it contributed $13.3 million to anchor GCVF’s first fund which totaled $17.5 million. This historic fund was one of the first venture funds in the United States to focus on rural investments.

Over four years, GCVF made 29 investments in a wide range of Colorado brands that collectively raised over $40 million and created more than 150 jobs in rural Colorado. In Buena Vista, Different Kind built a unique data platform that helps measure and improve provider performance in dentistry.

Gunnison-based SheFly, a women-owned outdoor clothing company, designs products that make the outdoors more accessible for all. Durango company Agile Space Industries powers lunar landers, satellites, and other spacecraft.

“The Colorado companies we invest in are making a difference across their communities, the state and the nation—and even in the new space economy,” said Co-Founder and Managing Partner of GCVF Marc Nager. “By raising a second fund, we are doubling down on our original thesis that founders in rural Colorado are a viable and thriving market, and our partnership with the Venture Capital Authority is an important part of that mission.”

“Thanks to our successful partnership with Greater Colorado Venture Fund I, we can confidently say that Venture Capital Authority funding has helped rural Colorado startups grow and create jobs. We are thrilled to be a partner in this second fund, which will help the VCA continue its commitment to invest in rural and coal-transition communities,” said the Chair of the VCA Board of Directors and a resident of rural Colorado, Thea Chase.

GCVF has raised nearly $25 million for its second fund. The VCA investment in GCVF II, which acting as a catalyst for raising private capital, is funded through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) awarded to the State of Colorado by the U.S. Treasury Department in August 2022.

The SSBCI is focused on expanding access to capital for businesses with less than 10 employees and to businesses led by individuals that identify as coming from under-resourced communities and geographies.

Of the initial $31 million of SSBCI funding received by the State, more than $19 million was directed to the VCA for the purpose of establishing new partnerships with venture capital firms that focus on companies located in Colorado Enterprise Zones and expanding access to capital across Colorado. Over the next five-plus years, Colorado could receive approximately $104 million in SSBCI funding, with more than $59 million of it invested through the VCA.

This limited partnership with GCVF is the second of four the VCA expects to announce in coming months to support under-resourced communities and geographies.

In late 2022, the VCA announced a partnership with New Community Transformation Fund-Denver, which is the first Colorado-based venture capital firm that is Black-owned and Black woman-led. By leveraging private capital and equity investments to fuel new businesses, these new partnerships are collectively projected to create or retain 2,900 jobs over the next 10 years.

The Greater Colorado Venture Fund (GCVF) is pioneering venture capital for rural America by catalyzing entrepreneurial action and spreading opportunities to build sustainable communities in rural America.  GCVF invests in Colorado companies with high growth potential located outside of the Colorado Front Range urban corridor.

The Venture Capital Authority (VCA) supports access to venture capital for Colorado’s entrepreneurs and startup businesses. It is a political subdivision of the state and a Special Purpose Authority like the Public Employees’ Retirement Association.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) works with partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth.