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Local entrepreneurs create economic development initiative

Starved Rock Country Alliance, a group of local entrepreneurs, has launched a new initiative to promote economic development in the upper Illinois Valley Region.

This group has recently formed the Starved Rock Country Capital Fund LLC (SRCFF), which aims to create jobs by providing capital and advice to entrepreneurs wishing to start or expand business in the region.

"We expect and encourage all members to act as mentors and advisors for businesses aided by the fund," said founding member Inga Carus, chairman and CEO of Carus Group Inc., headquartered in Peru. "We all come from different business backgrounds. As a group, we have a great deal to offer in terms of experience, contacts, and have the ability to make things happen with little intervention. We are investing our own money in this region, therefore, have a vested interest in making sure these businesses succeed."

The group, which is already reviewing several potential investment opportunities, has a short-term goal to gather at least 50 investors and generate $1 million to spur job creation throughout Starved Rock Country. Ultimately, the goal is to increase the number of high-quality, well-paying jobs in the area by 125-250 per year, indefinitely.

The for-profit fund has financial support from the Upper Illinois River Valley Community Development Corporation. The fund, working in coordination with local financial institutions and government, will provide initial equity investments, subordinated loans and second stage "gap" financing to support local business start-ups and expansions.

Created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, the fund will also offer hands-on help from local experts.

Informational event planned for Thursday for potential investors

PRINCETON — Midland States Bank and Heartland Bank and Trust are co-sponsoring an informational event for potential Starved Rock Country Capital Fund LLC (SRCFF) investors at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28 at the Flour House Bakery in Princeton. People wanting to attend should make reservations with bbehrens@htbank.com or aforristall@midlandstatesbank.com.

Additionally, the Starved Rock Alliance/Hegeler Carus Foundation will host a conference on economic development Oct. 29 at Senica's Oak Ridge. Both meetings are open to all interested investors.

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