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It’s not all bad news in Illinois. Among the things really working is venture capital and, with it, the entire startup ecosystem.

Last year, total venture capital invested in Illinois approached $2 billion, spread among 273 companies. That’s serious money, especially when if you keep consider that most of that money goes straight into payroll. The jobs it supports are good ones — high pay and usually on the cutting edge of technology. About half of that money comes from out-of-state investors, which is supercharged money because it doesn’t detract from Illinois money that might otherwise have been going elsewhere in Illinois.

The trend has been up, too. The numbers are from Pitchbook. Here are their details for the last five years:

I’m proud to have played a small role in the state’s venture community in its formative years 15 – 20 years ago. Then, it was tough to find ten or twenty companies qualified to put on presentations to investors at a conference I ran. We had to make a videotape to explain to entrepreneurs how to make an investor pitch.

Today, a huge new generation has taken Illinois into the big league. Hundreds of companies are investment-worthy and it seems like every high school kid knows how to pitch a deal to investors. Hundreds more startups that don’t need venture capital also thrive.

Through it all, the entrepreneurial community has maintained its unique work ethic and spirit of cooperation. I talked to Maura O’hara, Executive Director of the Illinois Venture Capital Association. She put it this way:

The venture dollars invested in Illinois companies has increased steadily to almost two billion dollars in 2017 thanks to a small group of Illinois VCs who worked to establish an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors and investment syndicates that include out-of-state VCs.  This on-the-ground commitment to new company formation and acceleration has resulted in thousands of jobs for Illinois. 

Keep up the great work.

Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.