Buy local

Last Wednesday, you had the chance to buy local, and it had nothing to do with the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. On July 24, a local company that has invested in Chapel Hill sold 2.5 million shares of its stock in its initial public offering. Heat Biologics, a biotech company working on cancer immunotherapy, moved from Miami to Chapel Hill two years ago to take advantage of the brain power for hire in our area. In its IPO last week, the company raised $25 million to conduct clinical trials of its experimental cancer-fighting drugs.

But from the dearth of local publicity, you’d think the IPO was open only to members of a secret club, kind of like General Assembly Republicans making laws that affect our livelihood, slipping provisions in late at night while nobody’s looking.

Heat Biologics is one of only six IPOs in the Triangle so far this year and one of only 10 in the past four years. It is the only IPO this year of a company located in Chapel Hill. So where are the headlines? I saw nothing about it in any local newspaper or news website, other than an after-the-fact article in the N&O.

Where was the hoopla from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce? Why wasn’t Penny Rich tweeting about this? Why is the town not lavishing free parking spaces on this biotech milestone?

The company has five employees, and its Securities and Exchange Commission filing reported that it plans to hire as many as 10 more in the coming year. This is a startup that has made good, a position that all those entrepreneurs at Launch hope to emulate some day. So why was this success only whispered?

By the way, the chief financial officer for Heat Biologics is our own Matt Czajkowski. This is the second Chapel Hill-based company he has shepherded through to the IPO phase. When Czajkowski was first elected to Town Council in 2007, a group of detractors derided him for being pro-business. More recently, that same faction sputters that he is not friendly to business. All the while, he has held steady, applying his Harvard MBA and years of executive leadership to help the town make good financial decisions in a very bad economy.

With Gene Pease stepping down at the end of the year, who other than Czajkowski knows about business? Donna Bell has a solo social work practice in Carrboro, and Ed Harrison is a self-employed consultant in a part of Chapel Hill in Durham County. But they can’t compare to a Chapel Hill job creator who has made a career understanding how to set up a business to thrive and be an effective steward of the finances of a growing business.

If that isn’t buying local, I don’t know what is. If only the local media had let us know about it.
– Nancy Oates

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16 Comments

  1. Many

     /  July 29, 2013

    Wow. Congratulations Matt! Keep up the great work.

    I agree it is sad Matt’s brand of success and expertise is not encouraged through policy and trusted at the polls……..let alone celebrated in the media.

  2. Bonnie Hauser

     /  July 29, 2013

    Not enough people understand economics – or its importance in assuring a healthy,vibrant community.

    Economic development has become the latest buzzword – following favorites like “sustainability” “organics” or “transit oriented development”. And the community is successfully divided as being “for” or “against” it. Like rooting for your team in a sporting event!

    Matt is among the few who appreciate where and how to thoughtfully apply these important principles. Not enough people are paying close attention.

    NIce work Matt – and Nancy thanks for bringing this important news our way!

  3. Fred Black

     /  July 30, 2013

    This offering was made only by means of a prospectus.

  4. Mike Kelley

     /  August 1, 2013

    The funds from the IPO appear to be supporting a clinical trial being conducted in Dallas.

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01504542

  5. DOM

     /  August 1, 2013

    I don’t understand what this means for Chapel Hill. Does it benefit us in some way?

  6. Nancy

     /  August 2, 2013

    Fred — I’m a very unsophisticated investor. Does “offering by prospectus” mean it is by invitation only to institutional investors or other big investors? Are small-time investors or individuals locked out of IPOs?

    DOM — The town evidently thinks it is important to attract technology startups to our area. Witness its investment in Launch and the perks it offered 3 Birds to stay in town.

  7. Many

     /  August 2, 2013

    Nancy,

    The prospectus he is referring to is probably what is known as a “Red Herring” prospectus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring_prospectus

    Likely Matt cannot comment because he is in a “quiet period”.and the S1 has not been made effective by the SEC yet.

    In most IPOs, a brokerage house or bank is employed to underwrite risk and distribute the shares in the IPO to the public. Once the S1 is effective a “final prospectus” is issued with great detail. I suspect (but do not know) that is what is happening here.

  8. Miss Moto

     /  August 2, 2013

    Not to be negative on Matt but to put things in line.
    Filings show that Matt joined the company in May of this year.
    His job is to set up and make this prospectus offering.
    Other than Matt’s job there are no new jobs being created in this area as a result.
    While this is important to Matt and the business, it’s fiscal impact to our community is negligible.
    This business is very unlike those at Launch and other efforts by Jim Kitchen and the Town which aim to create local jobs.

  9. Many

     /  August 2, 2013

    Miss Moto,

    “The company has five employees, and its Securities and Exchange Commission filing reported that it plans to hire as many as 10 more in the coming year.”

    How do you know none of those positions are in this area?

  10. anitabadrock@yahoo.com

     /  August 3, 2013

    Here’s my list of “must knows” for all elected officials:
    the top 10 private sector employers
    the top 10 sales tax contributors
    the top 10 business property tax contributers.
    The top 5 job creators in the county over the past 5 years

  11. Sounds like Matt Cz needs a little public relations savvy if nobody knew of this success. Actually, I blame Bill Strom for preventing the public from knowing about it.

  12. Many

     /  August 5, 2013

    antabadrock,

    I agree with your list, and I would suggest adding:

    Top 10 employers, job creators and tax contributors that are leaving.(or have left in the last 5 years) and why they are leaving.
    Top 10 opportunities for employers, job creators and tax contributors to locate here and why.

  13. Anita Badrock

     /  August 5, 2013

    Many,

    Large employers I know of who have left (some were longer than five years ago, but all of them employed more than 100 people when they left)
    BCBS
    Smith Breeden
    RHO, Inc
    Quintiles

    My understanding is that all of these businesses left Chapel Hill becuase they could not build or expand their physical locations in what they considered a reasonable time frame and at a reasonble cost to accommodate their growth.

    (yes, some of them do have a Chapel Hill mailing address but they are all physically located in Durham or other areas of RTP).

  14. Many

     /  August 5, 2013

    anitabadrock,

    Not suggesting Chapel Hill should compete with RTP, but I think growth options should be possible in Chapel Hill and in Orange County.

    Politicians also need to lead the “vision thing” discussion. What type of businesses do we want to enable and attract? How do we want to accomplish that?

  15. Anita

     /  August 5, 2013

    I absolutely agree.

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