The Tri-State Angel Investment Group during a meeting.

ASHLAND — Growing the economy is one of the top goals the Tri-State Angel Investment Group has for the region.

The group began in 2013 with just four members and was able to start investing in 2015. By then, the group had grown to 19 investors and had accumulated a fund of $1,200,000 — all private money within the unit.

Mick Fosson, KY Innovation Network Director and one of the founders of TSAIG, said the funds were invested in six different businesses that “have already resulted in jobs.”

One of the investments was Care 24/7, an innovative healthcare company in Ironton that coordinates and explains treatment recommendations for patients with serious illnesses. Fosson said by the end of 2017 the group wants to have between 75 and 80 employees at the facility.

“That’s a beautiful example of what we want to do. The investors who are in this group, they’re interested in making a profit because if they don’t, then we don’t have any money to invest. But they also want to invest in businesses that they would prefer be located around here and create jobs around here,” he said.

Fosson explained TSAIG is a member of the Angel Capital Group, the national investor syndicate, allowing other angel groups in different areas to also invest in Tri-State businesses. TSAIG investors can make “sidecar investments” as well, meaning they can contribute additional funds to a chosen business outside of the group contribution.

When it comes to finding potential investments, Fosson said businesses will often come to the group on their own. However, many are referred to from within the group itself. He compared how the group works to the television show “Shark Tank” where business owners pitch their ideas to investors.

“We want a company that has already demonstrated that they know what they’re doing in their business, that they have a good product or service to sell and that they can take the money that we invest in and grow for maybe $100,000 business to a $10 million dollar business,” said Fosson.

The group’s most recent investment involves a growing business that will be located in Ashland, according to Fosson. The business is aerospace related and Fosson said the group feels it will be a success.

Fosson believes the TSAIG is a crucial component to creating employment in the area. He explained if the group were not in place, then local entrepreneurs would be swayed by investors in other cities to relocate, only continuing the loss of younger people in the area.

“If we’re going to keep our bright young people here, well then we’ve got to have funding available for them to start and grow and run their businesses,” he said.

TSAIG Chairman Don Perry said the group also brings a sense of mentorship to the businesses. Many are unsure how to move their company forward, so in addition to providing the funds, the group offers advice.

“We’ve got a lot of great businessmen with a lot of years of experience that are a part of our group. They all have expertise in different areas and that’s what makes our group strong,” he said.

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