How to Invest in Locally Run Businesses

The executive director of Hatch Innovation on Oregon’s groundbreaking new rules for start-up capitalists

By Marty Patail January 25, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Amy Pearl, executive director of Hatch innovation, on investing in local businesses

You helped change Oregon law to allow individuals to invest up to $2,500 and own securities in Oregon companies. Why is this a big deal?  

This is like a community-sized IPO—that’s why we call it a CPO. Ninety-seven percent of businesses in Oregon qualify for this. If we were to bring money that wealthy people currently invest elsewhere back into the state, we would have all the jobs and money for schools that we would ever need. It’s a large number.

Any advice to newbies?

Hatch Innovation has started 18 local investor meet-ups around the state, from Joseph to Corvallis to Klamath Falls, for educational conversations. The first piece of advice is, read the prospectus. You shouldn’t have to dig or have your lawyer look at it for you. The second thing is, you should do your own due diligence.

What expectations should investors have?

This isn’t the kind of thing that you’re going to get rich from. You’re looking at returns in a whole new way. It seems like Oregonians are interested in helping local companies grow.  Some angel investors are freaking out. And we say, sorry, guys, it’s happening. It makes sense for communities to have a better pipeline for these companies that don’t fit the bank or the angel model.

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