Announcing Blueprint Local

I’m excited to announce Blueprint Local, a new venture to help entrepreneurs build wealth and transform street corners, neighborhoods, and communities across the country.

In the decade since I co-founded Village Capital, we’ve invested directly in over 100 entrepreneurs and supported thousands more through initiatives in our network. I’ve often found that our most meaningful work has happened at the intersection of entrepreneurs and the communities in which they live.

Today, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be launching a new venture, Blueprint Local, to build on that insight. Blueprint Local aims to be the premier platform for people to invest meaningfully in their own community. We will be developing a series of place-based partnerships that help investors back entrepreneurs and real estate projects that are seeking to transform their neighborhoods and communities.

The inspiration for Blueprint Local started with a problem: most entrepreneurs struggle to access capital. In work that I’ve been doing as an Innovator-in-Residence with the Kauffman Foundation over the last year, we’ve found that more than 81% of entrepreneurs neither raise venture capital nor get a loan. And according to the Economic Innovation Group, 50% of net new jobs have been created in just five cities.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs, private sector leaders, and policymakers have been focused on solving the problem. Just over a year ago, Congress passed legislation designating more than 8,700 census tracts across the country “Opportunity Zones,” giving investors a tax incentive to deploy more capital into areas where dynamism has been flagging. In the last year, I’ve traveled to more than 50 communities that are now having intentional conversations about how to better mobilize capital. Our initial efforts will utilize the Opportunity Zone benefit that has attracted national conversation and interest.

I am excited to be joining forces with a tremendous group of partners. Blueprint Local will be developed in a joint venture with Brown Advisory, an independent and colleague-owned global investment management firm. It’s critical to engage mainstream asset managers as we look to improve ways that people can invest — with returns and with impact — and I’ve found Brown Advisory’s approach to investing and commitment to its communities distinctive and thoughtful.

The “minimum viable product” for Blueprint Local was developed by Access Ventures in Shelby Park, Louisville, where I serve as a Venture Partner. Over the past four years, Access has developed a portfolio that’s invested millions of dollars across asset classes in one of Louisville’s poorest neighborhoods, creating hundreds of jobs and earning significant community buy-in. Access will be a founding partner in Blueprint Local and will continue to play a role in helping develop our impact strategy.

I’m also excited to announce initial partnerships with San Antonio-based Admiral Capital, whose leadership has tremendous experience in real estate, private equity, and community impact, as we explore what the platform might do in Texas. Any investment effort must have strong local leadership, and Admiral, founded over ten years ago by NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, has a long history of successful investments and contributions to the communities where they operate. We are also partnering with ReThink Community, a national leader in real estate and impact investment, to run point on our real estate strategy.

As Blueprint ramps up, I will no longer be involved in the day to day operations of Village Capital. I am inspired by Allie Burns’ leadership of our firm, and I’m excited to announce that we are promoting her to CEO to lead our work into the next phase. Victoria Fram will continue her exceptional job leading VilCap Investments, our affiliated fund, day-to-day. I will also continue my fellowship with the Kauffman Foundation as an Innovator-in-Residence, where we have been working on improving access to capital for the 81% of entrepreneurs who do not receive venture capital or a loan. We’ll share more in the coming months.

It will take a community for these ideas to succeed. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Building the team: We’re looking for a senior investor. We are searching for our most important hire: a Managing Director of Investments. We are looking for a senior investor who is able to manage a complex and exciting series of pipeline development and portfolio management processes. Please follow this link to learn more, and potentially get involved.
  • Blueprint [Your community here]. We aim to add 1–2 more Blueprint communities this year as we grow. If you’re interested in the role we can play in your community, we look forward to hearing from you. We already have a great mix of partners on the ground in Texas. Please let us know at texas@blueprint-local.com if you are interested in getting involved.

The idea for Blueprint has been inspired by so many of you who I’ve worked with along the way. I’m eager to see what we can do together in the next chapter.

With thanks,

Ross