Chat with Charleston entrepreneurs long enough and one topic sure to recur is capital, the money needed to get a start-up going.
Some are able to get their ventures off the ground with savings or the help of trusting family and friends, but many require outside investment.
And as venture capitalists and banks like more proof of profitability than most start-ups can provide, wealthy individuals with an appetite for risk, so-called angel investors, are the most likely source of that crucial cash.
There’s a bill slowly working its way through the state legislature that could swell the ranks of those angel investors and thereby bolster the region’s nascent tech businesses. But time is running out for H. 3779 to become law this year.
Known as the Bill Wylie Entrepreneurship Act of 2011, it would allow accredited angel investors, anyone whose net worth exceeds $1 million or who makes more than $200,000 per year, to claim a 35 percent tax credit on money they put into small, early-stage South Carolina companies. The bill would cap total tax credits at $5 million per year.
Two dozen other states already have such a program, including North Carolina and Georgia, and the Palmetto State, historically lagging in this area, would be wise to follow suit, according to the proposal’s supporters.
“If we are serious about building innovation and raising per-capita income and high-impact jobs, we’ve got to be serious about building capital,” said Wayne Roper, president of SCBIO, a Greenville-based biotech industry group.
It would seem to be a winning idea.
The South Carolina Research Authority’s SC Launch program already accepts $6 million per year in tax-deductible contributions to fund its portfolio of start-up tech firms, and the state cultivates a reputation of being business-friendly, doling out incentives. The bill passed the House last year and cleared a Senate subcommittee last month. With just a month left in the legislative session, it must be approved by the Senate finance committee and then full Senate.
Matthew Dunbar, managing director of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network, said he’d gotten word it could be on that committee’s agenda Tuesday. But there’s still the budget to sort out, and H. 3779 costs the state money, at least in the short term.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906.
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