At this time last year, Ohio was about to become the center of activity for the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF). Along with Lorain County Community College (LCCC), the Ohio Department of Development and Ohio University, the association was sowing the seeds to establish the group’s physical presence in Lorain and to launch its new education foundation. One year later, the decision has been called a “timely marriage” that came together with win-wins across the board. 

“NASVF was looking for an educational partner, and Ohio was looking for something to be able to bring more attention to the state from the investor community,” says Tracy Green, vice president of strategic and institutional development, Lorain County Community College.

Formerly based in Philadelphia, NASVF consists of 700 members in 43 states and four countries. Members may manage a fund themselves, be investors or economic-development professionals, but they’re each involved in some level of seed and venture funding. 

The association will hold its 2012 venture capital conference in Cleveland from Oct. 15 to 17, just a month after the partnership’s one-year anniversary, says Richard Fox, the interim CEO of NASVF. The conference will feature best practices in innovation capital, updates on industry trends and sessions with industry leaders. Among the several keynote speakers are Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, and Chuck Templeton, the founder of Open Table.

“Over 300 innovation capital industry experts are expected to be at the conference to address this year’s theme, ‘Advancing Innovation: Seeding Tomorrow’s Opportunities,’ ” says Fox.

But before the association celebrated one year in its new city, it wanted to develop a physical headquarters located on a college campus, a goal it has achieved at LCCC. Its second goal was to offer a local workshop. 
“With the boot camp, we want to help community organizations understand what it means and what it would take to establish a fund, along with some methodologies so we could encourage more funding for startups in Ohio,” says Green. “Before our first anniversary on Aug. 9, we held our first boot camp with 50 participants to test out our ideas and develop the curriculum.” 

When she says “curriculum,” Green is referring to the final part of the partnership’s ultimate goal: To transform the boot camp into an educational program that would serve individuals and organizations at the earliest stages, all the way to a credit program that would be geared toward finance majors with a focus on investing. It would be offered to members and the broader investment community.

The program is at the top of the to-do list, as NASVF plans to work with LCCC in 2013 to expand the community college’s initiatives in education for investors. Looking long-term, it’s possible the program could expand to a national scale, which would be a major feat for the partner organizations and a significant economic boost for Ohio.

“Ohio and LCCC have both taken significant initiatives to strengthen the economy of Ohio,” says Fox. “There are three ways to build an economy: recruitment, retention and the growth of new businesses. NASVF is in Ohio, bringing national best practices to Ohio to grow new businesses.”