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Md. lures software firm Salsa Labs with $1 million investment

A $1 million investment from a state economic development fund, which officials called the largest in the fund's history, is luring software company Salsa Labs and its 50 employees to Maryland.

Salsa, which helps nonprofits carry out online fundraising campaigns, gained the backing of the Maryland Venture Fund as part of a $5 million round of investment led by New Jersey-based Edison Ventures, state economic development officials said Thursday.

The company will move from offices in Virginia and Washington to a new facility in Prince George's, Montgomery or Frederick County, CEO Scott Stouffer said. Executives had been looking to bring those employees together at one location, and Stouffer reached out to Maryland economic development officials, having worked with them previously.

Having the Maryland Venture Fund participate in the financing made it easy to decide which state was right for the consolidation, Stouffer said.

The venture fund was established in 1994 and invests state money alongside private investment, contingent on job creation and preservation in Maryland. In fiscal 2013, the program invested about $9 million in companies based in Maryland or moving to the state.

The fund had invested in Stouffer's former company, Visual Networks, in the 1990s, before that company went public and was later sold, he said. Stouffer also previously served on the venture fund's board of directors.

"We're thrilled to have them involved," Stouffer said.

The venture fund typically invests in the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars, usually in early-stage companies. While some companies have received $1 million or more from the fund over the course of several rounds of investment, Salsa is the first to receive that much in a single, first-time investment, state Department of Business and Economic Development officials said.

Salsa plans to use the money to improve its cloud-based software that helps nonprofits create and manage grass-roots fundraising or political action campaigns, and to ramp up sales and marketing efforts, Stouffer said.

Edison had previously invested in the company. Officials there could not be reached for comment.

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