KICThe Ketchum City Council spent Monday evening discussing the future of the city’s 18-month-old business incubator, the Ketchum Innovation Center.

KIC, housed in a converted home in Ketchum’s light-industrial district, is providing space to five startup companies. But to get on firmer financial footing and wean itself off a dependence on city funding, KIC leaders Jon Duval and Rick LeFaivre said it needs more space…

…“There are perceptions about it not being as community-oriented as it should,” Frick said. “What are the strategies for self-funding? It will likely need to be more self-sustaining. We can’t be giving money to support private business.”

A consultant hired to advise the council during the meeting, Amy Pearl of Portland, Ore.,-based Hatch Innovation Lab, offered some ideas.

Hatch operates out of a converted car dealership in Portland, and offers workshops for tenants and prospective startups. It’s raised money through private donations to pay for operation, but is also fee-based, meaning it charges for its services. It can also raise money by offering space for events.

Pearl was instrumental in rewriting securities regulations in Oregon to allow for “community public offerings,” which is a means of crowdfunding startups or other small businesses. People can invest up to $2,500 into a company. They would have the potential to earn their money back—and potentially more, if the company succeeds.

So far, Pearl said Hatch has raised $267,000 in that fashion. Idaho has a similar law allowing small donations to businesses, which came from a 2012 federal law that allows states to do crowdfunding on a small scale.

LeFaivre said Idaho’s Bounty food cooperative is providing a test case for this fundraising model in Blaine County. In August, the co-op announced it was seeking investors who could provide up to $2,500, while accredited investors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could give more.

LeFaivre said the potential for this kind of fundraising is limited by the fact that many of the wealthiest Blaine County residents only stay part-time, keeping vacation homes here but holding their permanent residences elsewhere. Under the rule, they can’t contribute to the crowdfunding campaigns.

…read more on Idaho Mountain Express.