D.C. Program to Fund Small Businesses; $50 Million in Venture Capital Will Be Available to Local Companies

Article excerpt

Byline: Marguerite Higgins, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The District will begin an investment program next week that will provide $50 million in venture capital for small businesses based in the city.

The venture capital program, which was signed into law in fall 2003, will start Tuesday. It will provide loans or other structured payments to small companies in increments of at least $100,000 each, said D.C. Insurance Commissioner Lawrence Mirel.

"It's a relatively small program. But if it is successful, the District can extend and repeat it," Mr. Mirel said.

The D.C. Chamber of Commerce, which has 2,075 companies as members, already is interested in the program, said spokesman Chris Knudson. "It's our hope that this will increase business in the District."

Small businesses seeking the funds must be headquartered in the District to be eligible. They also must qualify as "small" under federal Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations.

The SBA generally considers a company with fewer than 500 employees or $5 million in annual sales a small business. Certain professions - including accountants, doctors, lawyers and lobbyists - will not qualify.

D.C. companies also must provide an affidavit stating that the business was unable to obtain a loan or investment from banks or other conventional providers. …