Posted by: Jeremy Quittner on July 1, 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.