City-Center-4_3_2013Welcome to the Sept. 22 Monday Business Briefing.

This is your private business intelligence briefing with Insider Louisville staff and contributors vetting tips collected during the past few days, hours and minutes before we post.

As always, we’ve made multiple inquiries on these tips, which come from sources who are not merely insiders, but who have direct knowledge of the deals.

Today, we’re bringing you the “le plus ça change ….” edition of Monday Business Briefing.

Picture-53-525x451So, what’s up with the Omni? 

There is a phenomenon — let’s call it the Louisville Epic Projects Cycle — where magnificent plans are announced followed by local media elbowing each other out of the way to get details. The cycle ends after new news pops up, everyone forgets and the projects quietly fade into history.

Think Vencor Tower. Iron Quarter. Angel’s Envy’s new distillery.

There is often a Cordish Cos. component. After Fourth Street Live, Cordish announced a number of world-changing projects downtown including redeveloping the area from Third Street to Sixth Street as Center City. Then came the Great Recession and nothing happened till last March.

That’s when with much fanfare and few details, the $261 million Omni project was announced: Omni Hotels & Resorts, Cordish and the city presented plans for a hotel that also would have luxury residences and retail, specifically a grocery. Should it happen, this could be the transformative project for Louisville, the project that marks the emergence of a vital downtown and the end of the old stultification.

Since March, at least two deadlines have passed  – July 15 and Sept. 1 – without any acknowledgement of where the project stands. Sources tipped us off that city officials and Cordish executives met last Thursday.

“Our team and Omni are working through the many details, which are common for a project of this size and scope,” Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokesman Chris Poynter wrote in an email. “More to come in December.”

Late last month, the Metro Council voted to extend the Omni deadline with Cordish until December. But that’s a little like the council voting to reduce the size of the KFC Yum! Arena taxing district … not its purview. Cordish will have to put up the majority of the investment, with the city coming up with about $35 million of the $261 million, as well as issuing about $100 million in debt.

This is one of the projects that simply must happen, along with the expansion of the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Louisville getting two new angel funds

angelThis has been a unsettling couple of months, with the departure of Beam Technologies to Columbus, Ohio, and the acquisition last week of Stonestreet One by Qualcomm. Even the most veteran tech people, startup types and entrepreneurs are having a difficult time figuring out where Louisville is headed.

All that said, here is some inarguably good news: Louisville is getting two new angel funds.

Enterprise Angels Community Fund I is under the aegis of Greater Louisville Inc.

Here are the details from the GLI website:

Last month GLI’s EnterpriseCorp (in partnership with the Enterprise Angels) launched the Community Fund I.  With a fund size of $3M, this new investment vehicle will invest in 10-15 high-potential startups over the next three years.  To maximize its available funds, the Fund has applied for a state tax credit that will provide its investors with the ability to offset 40% of the amount of their investment against their Kentucky personal income tax obligation.  The management committee of this new fund is a blue-chip group of investors, fund managers, successful entrepreneurs, and executives (see Marty McClelland, Doug Cobb, Mike Bowers, Charlie Moyer, Doug Whyte, Tony Holland, and Darren King) that are administering CF I at well below market costs.

Although the impact of the Fund’s investments will not be known for many years, we believe the Fund can be a major contributor of funds to grow the next Zirmed, Texas Roadhouse, Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Appriss, Learning House, Genscape, U.S. Worldmeds, KFC, Hosting.com, Humana, or any number of successful Louisville founded companies.

The only information we can find about the Sequel Fund is posted on Gust.com, a global clearing house for venture capital information. The Sequel Fund profile states the group is interested in young companies trying to raise their first round of funding.

Sequel entertains pitches from most industries including entertainment, manufacturing, food & beverage, health services and financial services, according to the profile. They don’t invest in FDA-regulated products or pre-revenue businesses and require prospective companies to graduate from an accelerator program or to have a lead investor whose investment includes “reasonable terms.”

The Fund’s initial investment size is up to $100,000, but might invest larger amounts in subsequent rounds, according to the profile. Sequel has a physical address in the Meidinger Tower at Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. And that’s all we know.

Because they only accept investments from accredited investors, fund managers can’t publicly solicit for the fund, one of Louisville’s top startup experts told MBB.

“The SEC is very serious about enforcing this rule, and most funds simply remain quiet, knowing that serious investors and startups can still find them,” he said. The individuals or groups who’ve invested in the funds demand absolute anonymity.

The GLI post goes on to state that if we can move “a small but meaningful portion of sidelined capital into local private investing, Louisville will have a formula to outpace its competitor cities in job growth by offering well-qualified entrepreneurs what they need.”

Hear, hear!