As per the report Valley Strong Credit Union has committed $1.5 million to Kern Venture Group’s next fund (KVG) to support investment in the Central Valley. The money will be used to establish a $10 million fund to target early-stage seed investments in start-up companies looking to turn revolutionary ideas into disruptive businesses.
“We are pleased to make this investment in our region as it fulfils our mission of helping people and communities prosper, Combined with our current investments in workforce education, energy perseverance and the B3K Prosperity Initiative (a public-private regional collaboration that articulates a shared strategic vision and investment plan for economic growth and inclusion in Kern County), we foresee a brighter future for our communities.” said Nick Ambrosini, President / CEO of Valley Strong.
Kern Venture Group was founded in 2018 by David Higdon and John-Paul Lake, two men with deep roots in Kern County and extensive experience and expertise in business and bringing leading-edge ideas to fruition. By providing access to capital, KVG hopes to spur the new business formation and survival rate in the Central Valley and offer investors an attractive return, its founders say. “Partnering with Valley Strong is a great fit for KVG because of our shared commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Central Valley,” Lake said.
The report stated, the group began investing in start-ups in 2019 from its first fund, a $2.15 million fund aimed at companies located in Kern or founded by entrepreneurs from Kern or which have a product or service that will positively impact the region. Two investments in the first fund went to local companies, Vinergy and Mill It, which have gone on to raise nearly $3 million of additional capital from other investors as they successfully grow their revenues.
“Our research uncovered that entrepreneurs in Kern County struggle to sustain growth and quality job creation compared to peer regions. A big reason is the lack of some basic ecosystem supports, including connections to investors with patient capital, This type of fund is a strategy proven to spur business dynamism and more inclusive outcomes, especially with KVG dedicating a portion to minority and women founders.” said Marek Gootman, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution who has been shepherding the B3K Prosperity initiative.
This is Valley Strong Ventures’ first investment partnership with community stakeholders. Formed in 2020, its goal is to leverage Members’ deposits to bring greater benefits and improve their financial standing as per the report.