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Business start-up fund gets tax exempt status

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The I-R-S has granted tax-exempt status for a new Wisconsin foundation that will provide venture capital for start-up businesses. Donors will get federal tax breaks for giving charitable donations to the new Bright-Star Wisconsin Foundation. The I-R-S announced the tax-exempt approval yesterday.

Foundation president Tom Shannon says it will open the door to $7-million that have been pledged by investors -- and they'll start raising more. Shannon says 12 new companies have applied for start-up funds, and the foundation's Investment Committee will most likely start acting on those requests in January.

Bright-Star chairman Jeff Harris says its funding will be given to companies that are poised for the most growth and job creation. The new group was first announced this summer. Former state Financial Institutions Secretary Lorrie Heinemann has been hired to help Bright-Star raise money. Shannon, who use to own a bio-tech company in Waukesha, says the new effort is a true cause. That's because entrepreneurial activity in Wisconsin is among the lowest in the nation -- and the new group is intended to prop that up.

Harris, Shannon, and six other founding donors have each pledged a half-million. Wisconsin taxpayers also have a skin-in-the-game. The state's Economic Development Corporation has pledged $300,00 to the new group.

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