Crowdfunding conference set to highlight new funding source for businesses

mliveMegan Wenzl | mlive | April 17, 2014 – MUSKEGON, MI — Crowdfunding, a funding source possibility that is growing in popularity for businesses, is going to be the focus of a West Michigan conference in Muskegon.

Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, 200 Viridian Dr., is scheduled to host a conference about crowdfunding at 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 23.

In addition, a social networking event will take place from 4-6 p.m.

West Michigan is home to a growing start-up business community, and crowdfunding is becoming a primary source of support financially for businesses in the area, according to GVSU’s website.

Crowdfunding – a method of raising capital from anyone in place of an accredited investor — goes back to the time an historical landmark arrived in New York City, when France gave the United States the Statue of Liberty, according to Eric Seifert, finance specialist for Michigan Small Business Development Center. The statue was a gift from France, but the base for the statue was not provided.

Something needed to be done, so Joseph Pulitzer campaigned in his newspaper to raise funds for the base, creating one of the first-ever crowdfunding campaigns in America, according to BBC News Magazine.

Crowdfunding today is a digital method of raising capital from many different people through the Internet.

The Michigan Invests Locally Exemption (MILE), which was passed in December, allows Michigan investors to invest in deals up to $10,000, Seifert said.

The MILE act changes the game in small business and non-profit investing. Before, investors had to be wealthy accredited investors, including those who earned more than $200,000 annually.

“This allows anyone off the street to invest up to $10,000,” Seifert said.

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