Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. is starting an investment fund to spark growth in Forsyth County. The Winston-Salem Pledge Roundtable Fund is seeking as many as 70 members to invest seed-stage capital in Winston-Salem-based startups. Preference is for industry sectors in which the city has expertise, including health care, technology, data analytics and virtual reality, but that’s not required.
“Winston-Salem has been identified nationally as one of the best cities to start and grow a business. We are home to one of the world’s leading innovation districts and have built a network of entrepreneurial resources that support startups along the entire continuum of growth, Mark Owens, President and CEO of Greater Winston-Salem, said in a press release. “We believe this investment fund can help to plant the seeds that will help the next big ideas grow, right here in Winston-Salem.”
Organizers aren’t seeking a specific amount of capital because it will operate as an vehicle in which members make non-binding pledges to contribute capital to various investments. Unlike a blind pool, contributors will have the right to review each investment before contributing. Members will be asked to meet a minimum investment over three years.
To become part of the fund, members under age 40 have a $30,000 minimum investment, while others are asked to put up $60,000. Membership is contingent on meeting accreditation requirements in the Securities Act of 1933.
Owens and chamber colleagues Laura Lee and Clay Johnson will facilitate the fund along with a committee of stakeholders.
Predecessor groups to Greater Winston-Salem Inc., which was created by a merger of the local chamber and Winston-Salem Business Inc., didn’t have similar funds, a spokesperson said.
For generations Winston-Salem was dominated by large employers including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Wachovia Bank and others that are no longer based in the city. That has sparked a greater reliance on smaller companies and a large medical industry dominated by Wake Forest Baptist Health and Novant Health.