Mitt Romney Visits – Venture Capital on LI Stressed
On Wednesday March 26, 1,000 business professionals welcomed Mitt Romney back to Nassau County as he arrived at the Crest Hollow Country Club for the annual Long Island Association Spring Luncheon. The last time Mr. Romney visited Long Island was for the 2012 presidential debate with President Barack Obama at Hofstra University. The spirited but relaxed Q&A session, which went on for more than an hour, covered topics such as his candid admission of some flaws in his presidential campaign, his views on religion and politics, comments on Governor Cuomo’s recent ban on fracking in New York State, observations on the private sector and international foes, and his opinions as to the perceived failings of Obamacare; as well as his thoughts on the upcoming 2016 election, and his picks for a Republican candidate.
One topic discussed that hit home for New Yorkers was the topic of venture capital. Kevin Law, President and CEO of the LIA, asked Mr. Romney “How do you get venture capital to come to Long Island?” Mr. Romney responded by saying “Venture capital goes to where the opportunities arise and where people are coming up with new ideas.” As a former Bain & Company CEO, Mr. Romney spoke about business issues and his time at Bain Capital, a spin-off he co-founded in 1984. Mr. Law asked Romney if, during his career there, Bain Capital had ever invested in any companies on Long Island. Mr. Romney said that there is generally no geographic focus on the companies that are selected for investment; rather venture capital will go where the business opportunities are.
Mr. Romney spent time discussing his experience with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) office of technology and how successful their program was for incubating new start-ups in the Boston area. As former governor of Massachusetts, he worked with local colleges and universities to set up offices similar to the one organized at MIT. These programs created invaluable opportunities to match thriving entrepreneurs with venture capital firms, financial backers and other industry experts who would help bring new ideas to fruition. Romney suggested that in order to get venture capital onto the Island, business leaders here should make opening up these opportunities a priority at our local colleges and universities, making it more attractive to be here and expand, rather than to pack up and leave. The Long Island Association has released its top 15 priorities in 2015 and item #6 is “To continue to assist our academic institutions with participating in Start-Up NY and other state and local economic development efforts to spur the growth of high-tech and bio-tech startup companies on Long Island,” which is a step in the right direction.