Investing $400,000 to bring four out-of-state companies to downtown St. Louis temporarily might not look like a smart economic development strategy, since the city isn’t guaranteed any permanent jobs, and they could leave after four months.
The backers of the new SixThirty fund, a joint project of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Cultivation Capital venture-capital group, are betting that won’t happen. They think entrepreneurs from New York, San Francisco and Edinburgh will find St. Louis so appealing that they’ll want to build at least part of their business here.
SixThirty’s organizers acknowledge the risk, but risk is inherent in early stage companies. The assumption behind SixThirty is that developers of new financial technologies will want to be close to their potential partners and customers, while established companies will benefit from knowing the cutting-edge entrepreneurs.While there are no St. Louis startups among SixThirty’s first class of four companies announced this week, some of the winning entrepreneurs said they expect to be here longer than four months.