Last September, the West Virginia Angel Investor Network was one of five groups that split a $235,000 grant to develop angel investment funds.
With the money, the group hired Minnesota-based RAIN Source Capital to provide technical assistance in creating the fund, which came to be called West Virginia Growth Investment LLC.
The next step was to raise capital from investors -- a task Heywood said was easy to accomplish.
"They came forward in droves," he said.
The fund has so far raised about $3 million, and Heywood, who serves as vice-chairman of the fund, said money continues to come in.
"I think that says a lot about the passion Mountaineers have for the Mountain State and for sense of opportunity that's out there today among the investment community," he said.
Heywood said he didn't think they would have received that kind of response 15 years ago, but now the economy of the state has moved forward to the point where it supports that kind of activity.
"There's so much happening in our state coming out of in the high-tech corridor (along Interstate 79), coming out of the oil and gas patch, coming out of the eastern panhandle," he said. "People see it's going to be a golden age for investment in our state."
Tomblin said this type of investment activity is more critical now due to the effects of new banking regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis that have tightened bank lending standards.
"With the change in the banking rules...it's become more and more difficult for small businesses to get the kind of financing they need," he said. "It's not because our banks don't want to do that, but a lot of it because of the federal regulations and stipulations the hoops that you have to jump through to get a loan as a small business."
Heywood also emphasized the fund is 100-percent private. No state tax dollars will be used for its operations or lending.
"We're not seeking tax credits, we don't receive tax credits, we're not seeking any state assistance -- we're here to assist the state and be a tool in the toolbox of the state," he said.
"We're just trying to be one piece in the overall equation, one part of the quilt of financing opportunities."
Fund managers will hold their first organizational meeting Thursday in Charleston. Heywood said anyone interested in learning more about the fund can visit its website, www.wvgrowth.com.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.