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Posted by: Jeremy Quittner on July 01, 2008

It pays to be an inner city small business these days, especially if you’re green. Helios Coatings, in Canton, Ohio, recently closed a $4 million investment round from venture capital firms Hopewell Ventures, based in Chicago and G.C. Anderson Partners of New York.

Helios, an urban business with about 30 employees, makes an environmentally friendly metal coating, called Metallight, which replaces chrome in the automotive industry.

“More and more automakers are trying to reduce the carbon footprint of their vehicles,” says Tom Parkinson, a partner at Hopewell who co-led the deal.

But something else is at stake here. Apparently most venture capital and private equity firms gravitate to companies located on the Coasts, or within easy reach of a major airport. As a Midwest firm, Hopewell, which put $3 million in the deal, seeks other opportunities.

“Inner city neighborhoods, where there is a concentration of low income [people] and a certain lack of infrastructure, tend to be very much overlooked,” Parkinson says.

That story may now be changing.

Reader Comments


July 4, 2008 05:50 PM

This is my first experience on a blog. Still not sure how it/they work. But, this article on inner city investments caught my interest. I spent 25 of my 31 years in the classroom(s) in the inner city of Flint, Michigan (Now a ghost of what it once was.) All but one factory closed.

I have an interst in trying to go in another direction - and down here in SW Florida - 'out in the sticks'.

I need to find $5,000,000 to put together this new concept in business and education. It would include (hopefully) a profit making restaurant, an air park - and a Children's Aviation Center'.

Anyone know where I can borrow the five million dollars to create this first one? (Eventually, I would hope to create a chain of such 'Centers'.

I'm in the process of revising my website: If you visit it, you will get an idea of what this entails. I've had state political and educational leaders tell me it is 'visionary'. Not 'screwy'. But, also that this is not high on their priorities. Basic health and education provisions are. And I can't disagree with that.

So, is there anyone out there that could help me - with this 'vision' to provide an alternative to Sheriffs' ranches - that spend a lot of money on a few kids - after they've gone astray?
This concept will expose a lot more students to aviation fields - at no costs to taxpayers. And before they get 'off track'.

I'll be revising my website, soon. Maybe some of you have some ideas on legitimate ways to get this financed. I'll be looking into getting help from foundations, govenment grants, lending institutions or individuals.

On that subject. I sent Lee Iacocca this and a companiion proposal - on how he could save more than just Chrysler or the Statue Of Liberty. He could reinvent our entire way of manufacturing automobiles in America; with energy effecient methods. This approach would use older classic models - and make them energy effecient. I suggested he utilize the '57 Thunderbird, the '68 Mustang Eleanor. Also the '77 downsized Jeep that didn't get off the drawing board. The plan would be to make them all low HP - and high MPG vechiles. And great looking classics! Not the dumb 'smart car'.Yuk! And built them in an American company, in America - by Americans!
I sent it to his Diabetes 1 Foundation.
I Haven't heard back from him. (Maybe it is too 'late in the game' for him. I hope not. He is 'the industrial Icon' of our times!)
This too will be on my new site. Bob McDonagh

Bob McDonagh

July 4, 2008 05:59 PM

Thank you, when I went back to further view your website; I found this article about Funding being found for a venture Capital project in Canton, Ohio. After you look over my idea - please be patient with me on my new website. That should be up in about two weeks. Then you will see the two ideas I'm trying to create.

This would not only be the kind of help I dream of - just for my project. but, as a prototype for the size and way we set up - many new manufacturing facilites.
Thank you, Bob McDonagh

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