The nation’s premier gathering of mid-market capital investors descended on Dallas last week to hunt for prospects, network with colleagues, and announce new tools that show the positive impact of private capital in creating jobs and growing the U.S. economy.
“This is Main Street investing, not Wall Street investing,” said Pam Hendrickson, The Riverside Company’s COO Pam Hendrickson, a leader of the firm that has taken big bets on franchising concepts as diverse as The Dwyer Group and “It’s Just Lunch,” the dating service.
IFA Board member Tabbassum Mumtaz, President & CEO of Apex Restaurant Management, Inc., knew “InterGrowth” – the conference of 2000 investors presented by the Association for Corporate (ACG) — was a good place to be. “You have to stay close to the money,” he said.
“Private capital is investing in local communities and providing local jobs,” said Gary LaBranche, President & CEO of the ACG, which represents 14,000 “mid-market” private equity, corporate growth and M&A professionals. Under LaBranche’s leadership, ACG developed and went live at InterGrowth with a new data resource called “growtheconomy.org,” which maps private capital investment and job creation in communities across America.
“Growtheconomy.org will provide visibility for an industry that has been largely invisible,” LaBranche said, adding that middle-market private capital firms have outpaced other sectors in local investment and U.S. job creation.
Kicking off the conference was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who offered an emotional look back at the days after 9-11 and the nation’s recovery afterward. “The freest nations on earth are the strongest,” she said, in remarks chock full of observations and inside stories related to world events. But Rice said freedom is not enough, criticizing political efforts to pit socio-economic groups against one another. Instead, she said, all Americans should aspire to be their best, without criticizing those who have more or less than they.
Asked about educational standards, Rice emphasized the importance of high-quality teachers. Helping a niece with homework recently, Rice recounted a math exercise in which the young relative advised the Stanford law professor not to worry because, “there are no wrong answers.”
“Oh, yes there are,” Rice told the child. She noted, “If I don’t hold my Stanford students to the highest standards, I find they sink to their lowest standards.”
Brett Palmer, President & CEO of the Small Business Investors Alliance based in Washington, said his members – mostly private equity firms — look for excellence when investing in franchising as part of the SBA’s Small Business Investment Companies program. The program helps leverage private capital into franchising. Unlike the 7(a) and 504 programs, SBIC receives relatively little public attention, despite having played pivotal roles in franchising. “Private equity is essential to job creation, and our investors know that franchising is an attractive option,” Palmer said.
Ellen Moore, ACG’s Vice President of Strategic Development, said connections between private capital and trade associations like IFA are important to facilitate business development by members and to raise awareness about job creation and long-term economic growth.
Moore knows of what she speaks. Before joining ACG, she served in leaderhsip roles with Darden Restaurants, Compass Group North America, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and the Women’s Foodservice Forum. She was also Senior Vice President of the National Restaurant Association’s Education and Certification Services division.
ACG is based in Chicago.