Ex-JobsOhio chief sought retirement fund business
Written by JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent   
Friday, 25 October 2013 06:23

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The former head of Gov. John Kasich's signature job-creation office approached Ohio's largest public pension fund earlier this year seeking business for his fledgling venture capital fund, but a pension fund spokeswoman says his pitch was rejected.

Mark Kvamme left the private nonprofit JobsOhio in November and co-founded Drive Capital with fellow Silicon Valley veteran Chris Olsen that Kvamme says aims to support technology companies in Ohio and the Midwest.

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System met with Kvamme on Jan. 22, spokeswoman Julie Graham-Price said in an email.

"We chose not to invest in Drive Capital as it is a new fund, and we are focused on the secondary venture capital market," Graham-Price said. The secondary market comprises more established companies.

Kvamme did not respond to an Associated Press email request for comment.

It was not the only publicly-funded entity Kvamme approached after leaving JobsOhio.

In July, Drive Capital landed a $50 million commitment from Ohio State University, whose ex-president, Gordon Gee, also shares close ties to the governor. The following month, Ohio State trustees voted on an investment policy change, giving the school broader leeway to invest in Ohio-based start-ups.

Kvamme moved to Ohio from California in 2011 — famously hired for $1 — to lead Kasich's economic development efforts. He held two public positions — as state development director and job-creation adviser — before moving into a leading role at the newly-created JobsOhio, which serves as Kasich's primary economic development engine.

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