Credit Suisse on Supporting (And Increasing) MI’s Capital Continuum

6/29/12Follow @XconomyDET

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that are in turn investing in Michigan’s early-stage startups, often attracting money from the East and West coasts that otherwise wouldn’t find its way to the state. “We’re one piece of the [economic development] puzzle.”

Brown goes a step further, saying that Credit Suisse is doing more to beef up the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem than anyone except state government. Just this week, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved the new Pure Michigan Venture Development Fund, a $9 million effort to create four new VC funds in the state. “The ability to vet applicants that have not run a fund before is very difficult,” Brown notes. “Credit Suisse will be our peer reviewer and they’re doing it for free, which will save the state thousands of dollars.”

CFIG is headquartered in New York City and employs 140 people working in offices across the country. Michigan is one of its oldest and largest clients, O’Donnell says, adding that it also manages investments for the state’s pension fund. “Michigan is a special place for us,” he says.

Though Michigan is bucking the national trend of shrinking investment capital, with the number of VCs here actually on the rise, O’Donnell says it remains a “very challenging” fundraising environment. “It’s harder to start a VC firm today than it was even three or four years ago, because any money would likely go to existing firms.”

Despite the relative immaturity of Michigan’s capital contiuum, O’Donnell says, the number of serial entrepreneurs here is increasing, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem is getting more robust—which is exactly what the state government sought to do when it established the 21st Century Jobs Fund in 2005. “It’s important to all of us at Credit Suisse to help Michigan’s entrepreneurs succeed, because Michigan is one of the states that really needs it,” he adds. “Pound for pound, I don’t see any other state doing more to bolster capital. The more of that grassroots activity there is in Michigan, the better the ecosystem will be.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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