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Crowd-funding a Hot Topic for Government, Businesses

IndianaChamberLegislation is going through the United States Congress to make it easier for small businesses in America to benefit from crowd-funding. Look for more on this topic in an upcoming edition of BizVoice (via a column from Kevin Hitchen, a founding member of LocalStake). For now, The Wall Street Journal blog relays:

The U.S. House advanced legislation this week that would make it easier for smaller companies to raise money from investors.

House lawmakers, in overwhelming bipartisan votes, completed work Thursday on four bills as the measures drew interest in the Senate. President Barack Obama also signaled support for at least one of the bills.

Among other things, the House by a vote of 413-11 approved a bill to make it easier for companies to advertise private offerings with wealthy investors and voted 407-17 to allow startup companies to raise up to $10,000 from individuals over the Internet.

Supporters hope the bills, if signed into law, will help small firms grow in size and hire new workers.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), who is weighing introducing capital formation legislation in the Senate, said there is widespread need for Congress to act. “Everywhere I spend time across the state I talk to small business owners and entrepreneurs that need access to capital to grow and create jobs,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

The advertising provision would end a Securities and Exchange Commission ban on “general solicitation” that effectively limits the ability of companies to reach out to potential new investors. “Under the current ban, if you have a good idea but you don’t have a prior relationship, it cuts off a whole section of investors,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said in an interview.

The Internet bill would allow startups to use “crowd-funding” methods to tap thousands of investors for very small amounts of shares without the firm having to register first with the SEC. Introduced by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.), the bill would allow startups to raise up to $2 million through Internet solicitations and social networking and online sites designed for capital raising.