Elevate Ventures CEO Chris LaMothe. | StartUp Grind

1804, the organization that calls itself the front door for entrepreneurs in Louisville, has extended that reach to Southern Indiana. Not only has it opened a co-working space in Maker13 in Jeffersonville, but it also will serve as steward of a new partnership from Elevate Ventures.

Elevate Ventures

Last week, at the StartupGrind at Maker13, the area’s newest maker space, Elevate Ventures released details of a three-year, $2.5 million investment to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in the region that includes Southern Indiana.

The terms of the agreement, which became effective Dec. 6, 2016, include up to $1.5 million in a matching contribution by the Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures and $1 million from community partners.

According to a news announcement, partners include the Paul Ogle Foundation (Jeffersonville), Blue Sky Network (New Albany) and Old National Bank (Evansville).

The 1804 organization is working collaboratively with partners in the Louisville metropolitan area and cities and towns in Southern Indiana.

About $500,000 would go to establishing an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, said Chris LaMothe, chief executive of Elevate Ventures, in an interview.

Elevate Ventures describes itself as a private venture development organization that nurtures and develops emerging and existing high-potential businesses into high-performing, Indiana-based companies.

In a phone interview, LaMothe said that even though the money could only be invested in Indiana companies, the goal was to be a catalyst for the entire region. Despite “the little strip of water between” Southern Indiana and Kentucky, he said, “we’re all part of the same region.”

If the agreement, which is designed to be renewed, is a success, he added, “We hope Kentucky might take a look at this program and really match it.”

During the StartUp Grind, Kent Lanum, chairman of 1804’s board of directors and president/CEO of the Paul Ogle Foundation in Jeffersonville, underscored the goal of creating “a bi-state entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

In a statement, Lanum added, “If we are successful in the implementation of our strategic plans and this partnership with Elevate Ventures, we will have done something that could become a model for cross-border urban areas nationwide.”

Until an Entrepreneur-in-Residence is in place, LaMothe said that those interested in learning more about how to participate should contact 1804.

1804 Mural | Photo by Melissa Chipman

According to LaMothe, partners are trying to focus efforts on areas like technology, advanced manufacturing, advanced agriculture and medical devices, among others.

They will be working with universities and colleges to try to build the ecosystem of startups “to change the DNA of the region,” LaMothe said.

Madison Hamman, interim executive director of 1804, said in the announcement: “Our region needed a jump-start in funding opportunities for our entrepreneurs. Elevate Ventures will inspire other would-be investors, angels and service providers to turn their attention to the incredible companies being started right here in our region.”

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