Angel funds already transparent

Tommy Kenville

Grand Forks

In 2008, Doug Burgum and James Burgum came to the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota to learn about angel investing for helping small startups and entrepreneurs. As the first chairperson of an angel fund in North Dakota, I was eager to share information with them and educate them on our mission. Shortly thereafter, they invested in the FM Angel Investment Fund, and I was excited to see UND and NDSU alumni working together to make North Dakota better.

That excitement has sometimes waned as it has been a difficult journey for angel funds in North Dakota. Granted, these are high-risk investments. About a month ago, I was asked to testify at our state capital regarding angel funds, and at my own expense, I did so. What a disappointing day. They told us they want “transparency,” yet they have not asked for anything until now. They are also leaning toward following Minnesota on incentive plan, why would we follow anyone?

We can provide a great deal of information; all they need to do is ask. I was told before I testified that the situation was political; I wondered to myself how that could be. After all, the angel funds have attracted out of state investment, helped many in state and out of state companies, raised millions, and hopefully will be some successes and the state will be able to tax the individuals on the income side of the successes.

I learned after testifying that it was indeed political. In fact, a member of the Legislature’s interim Political Subdivisions Taxation Committee (key word, “interim”) was shut of the committee’s main discussions.

We have a great state. However, I am not impressed with our leadership over the last few years. It is time for North Dakota to be a lean, mean economic machine. Thank you, Doug Burgum, for risking your personal money in many North Dakota endeavors.