A prominent Republican leader says Indiana "absolutely" has the potential to draw more venture capital dollars to Hoosier companies. The problem is figuring out how to do it, particularly when the issue is primarily a function of the private market. "It’s really not our business to run a business or to pick and choose winners and losers," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-20). "We’ve had some success. But there are a lot of opportunities to do a lot more, and that’s what we’re trying to figure out. How do you do more and do it right, so that the taxpayer feels comfortable with what you’re doing."
Kenley added he believes promoting Indiana’s overall economy, notably the tech sector, could attract more investors. However, the numbers would indicate otherwise. Despite having the 17th largest state economy last year, Indiana ranked 27th in the amount of venture capital investment for 2016. One of its strongest years in nearly a decade. Prompting Kenley and Senate Majority Floor Leader Brandt Hershman (R-7) to call on a number of the state’s tech leaders for help.
"One of the success stories in Indiana is, is that not only does government work on something, but you get outside partners. People in private business. People who are willing to come in almost with their free time and say, ‘Look, here. I’ll help you figure out how to do this the best.’ And I think we’re putting that coalition together."
One of the key players assisting lawmakers in the ‘coalition’ is TechPoint Chief Executive Officer Mike Langellier, who is a big proponent of the Next Level Indiana Fund, legislation that would allow the state to invest in Hoosier companies.
"By investing into venture capital firms that bring expertise, connections, and dollars to Indiana, the Next Level Indiana Fund would take Indiana from laggard to leader in venture capital investment and catapult Indiana ahead as a prominent tech hub," said Langellier. "I commend Governor Holcomb and a roster of house and senate leaders who see Next Level Indiana Fund’s potential and are thoughtfully working to make it possible.”
The 2017 legislative session is expected to end Friday.