- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota legislators want to set up an online service to link young businesses with capital.

Advocates say MNvest would work like the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. But investors would get a piece of companies they support rather than trinkets like CDs or T-shirts.

Minneapolis business attorney Ryan Schildkraut told a House commerce committee on Tuesday that many of the entrepreneurs he works with struggle to find funding for their ideas.

“They have great ideas and business plans” but need better access to money, he said. Under current law, they can only solicit investments from friends, family and the wealthiest investors.

MNvest would act as a match-making service, hooking Minnesota residents up with Minnesota companies, Schildkraut said. It would open the investment field up to more people. Proponents say more than a dozen other states already allow programs like MNvest, including Michigan and Wisconsin.

A bill to establish the program passed its first House committee hearing Tuesday. A Senate committee is scheduled to take up the companion bill Wednesday.

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