LancasterOnline – AOL founder Steve Case invests in startups in America’s heartland to help them compete with the entrepreneurial powerhouses of Silicon Valley and Manhattan.
And even though Lancaster County is better known for apple dumplings than whiz-bang apps, Case announced this morning he’s bringing his Rise of the Rest bus tour, a help-the-new-guy initiative, to Lancaster in October.
Case will listen to eight central Pennsylvania entrepreneurs pitch their ideas.
The best one gets a $100,000 investment from Case himself.
“We are certainly very excited to shine a spotlight on how much innovation is occurring in our marketplace already,” said Lisa Riggs, president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, who led the effort to bring Case’s tour to Lancaster.
Case will also visit Harrisburg and York.
Who will be competing is not yet known, but Riggs expects entrepreneurs to step forward with cool ideas.
She said the Lancaster area is home to health care, agriculture, energy and software development startups that could compete for the $100,000 prize.
26 cities visited
Over the past three years, Case has taken his bus tour to Detroit, Des Moines, Albuquerque and 23 other heartland cities and invested in over 50 companies to encourage start-up creation in cities where manufacturing and other industries are in decline.
Case worries that the flight of capital from smaller cities to thriving hubs on both coasts will only divide and weaken the nation.
“If the 2016 election result teaches us one thing,” Case wrote in a USA Today column in January, “it is that America cannot continue to be a country where a few areas — Silicon Valley, New York — prosper wildly, while much of the rest of the country is buffeted by economic uncertainty.”
He said that about 90 percent of venture capital in 2015 went to “blue” states and just 10 percent went to states that voted for Donald Trump.
“This allocation of capital creates a cycle where a few places enjoy investment backing, partnerships and growth — and most of the rest of the country struggles to get ahead,” Case wrote. “Responsibility for changing this dynamic starts with Silicon Valley’s and New York’s technology leaders and venture capitalists. These giants must redeploy capital to the other 48 states.”
Case will bring that message to Lancaster on Tuesday, Oct 10. The activities will begin at 3 p.m. with a discussion led by Case and J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist best known as for his top-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”
A pitch competition will follow from 4 to 6 p.m. The event wraps up with a networking party from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The event’s location has yet to be announced.
Tickets will go on sale soon.
Riggs said the Rise of the Rest visit could help publicize a growing startup culture in Lancaster.
“What’s really nice for us is it showcases that you don’t have to be a major metro market. You can have smaller, almost rural communities, that also have these sorts of innovators,” she said.
Click here to read the full article from LancasterOnline.