The Shasta Angels – Old Redding Meets New Redding

Eric Hiatt exudes confidence, energy and optimism. When we met at his office one morning a few weeks ago, he grasped my hand firmly and fixed me with a warm and direct gaze before gamely answering my (somewhat impertinent) questions about the organization he leads, Shasta Angels. “Your questions are making me a little nervous” he admitted, before enthusiastically jumping in front of the whiteboard to illustrate a few more points.

Eric A. Hiatt.
Photo source: Facebook

I appreciated his courage in the face of the news media.

Shasta Angels is a group of “angel investors” who are attempting to slowly and quietly transform the economy of Redding and its surroundings. They operate with a vision to increase the prosperity of the region they call home. But let’s be clear, the mission isn’t primarily altruistic. They’re business people and they’re investing for personal profit.

These so called “angel investors” are what the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) refers to as “accredited investors”, a title requiring either a minimum net worth of $1 million or $200K in annual income in each of the last two years. “Angel investors” are presumed to be financially sophisticated investors with a reduced need for the usual regulatory protections afforded to others. The Shasta Angels are a group of individual investors who meet these criteria and who’ve banded together to create investment opportunities bigger than their individual resources.

While Eric Hiatt seems to take business very seriously, he is clearly a busy man with a lot of irons in the fire. “I don’t get paid to do this” he says of his position as Executive Director of the Angels, before pulling up a slide to remind himself of some of his talking points for the organization. But it’s clear he’s passionate about the work of the Angels who he describes as “mostly old Redding”. The Angels were first organized in 2011, but didn’t begin investing until 2013. Since that time, according to Mr. Hiatt, they have invested $1.97 million in 11 different companies representing a value of $153.45 million. These companies have generated $19.3 million in revenue over the last 12 months and currently employ 224 people.

I couldn’t help but compare this success with the vision of Stillwater Industrial Park’s potential for generating local employment. But when I asked Mr. Hiatt for his opinion on this he only smiled and looked down at the table before quickly replying “ No comment on Stillwater.” Can’t fault me for trying, right?

The Shasta Angels were started to bridge the gap between local startups and local investors. Per Mr. Hiatt, they look at around thirty deals every year and usually invest in about 2 companies. They are what are referred to by the SEC as a “self directed investment club” meaning that while they pool their deal opportunities, their knowledge, and their experience base, they don’t pool their funds, investing individually instead. They are also a part of In Sync, a network of angel investor groups across California who cooperate with each other to share “deal flow.” The Shasta Angels do not cooperatively generate any income. According to Mr. Hiatt, a deal is considered a “Shasta Angels investment” when a member of the Angels invests in a business brought in through the Shasta Angels pipeline.”

This is to differentiate from investments made by members of the Shasta Angels outside of their Angel affiliation, as apparently happened recently when Joel Taylor, Bethel Music CEO and Shasta Angel, purchased what used to be the Old Oregon Street Antique Mall. Mr. Hiatt clarified that the property was purchased with Taylor’s personal funding sources, and not as a member of the Shasta Angels, although Joel did reach out to his Shasta Angel friends and colleagues for advice on the purchase before completing it.

This is pretty typical for individual angels, according to Mr. Hiatt, because collegial support is a significant part of the organizational benefit of the group. When high powered business people from a wide variety of backgrounds band together in a sort of club (officially an LLC), the shared corporate knowledge is a huge boost to each individual member. Which is why Joel Taylor, or any member of the Angels, may turn to other Angels for advice or guidance.

“Think about it” Eric told me “I’ve got access to banking, attorney, finance, medical, and technology” leaders whenever I make a personal investment. “Of course I utilize those resources. I’d be crazy not to.” And it’s worth mentioning that like Joel Taylor, Eric Hiatt has been buying up some significant Redding property with his own personal resources. He and Luke Miner are co-owners on the Pine Street property that houses Salvation Army and Crowning Jewels.

But I wasn’t done making Mr. Hiatt nervous. I asked Eric if he was familiar with the facebook group Bethel Affiliated Businesses, which could be more aptly named Boycott Bethel Businesses. Driven by curiosity, I recently joined the active group, and found that it functions to crowd source connections between local businesses and our local megachurch for the purpose of avoiding supporting Bethel. Mr. Hiatt’s not on social media at all (which is probably one of the reasons he’s so dang successful) and had only heard of the group, but quickly pointed out that he is a Redding local, born and raised here. He attends a local Vineyard Church, not Bethel.

More importantly, he (and the Shasta Angels) don’t differentiate business affiliations based on race, ethnicity, gender or religious affiliation, including Bethel. “I invest in people” he told me, repeating an oft quoted line of his about how ideas are a dime a dozen. He believes some people have the intelligence and drive to make good ideas happen and those are the ones he wants to invest in. He quickly looked over the Shasta Angel investments and pointed out that of the 11 businesses the Shasta Angels have invested in so far, only one has a Bethel connection that he knows of. ( A listing of the businesses can be found on the Shasta Angels website.)

And while Joel Taylor is Bethel Music’s CEO and Luke Miner (another Angel) originally came here for Bethel (Hiatt was unsure if he still attends), many of the Shasta Angels have no connections to Bethel and could be more aptly be described as “old Redding”. He cited Michael Daquisto (local attorney and Redding City Council Member), Mike Davis (CEO of MD Imaging) and  Scott Putnam (Apex Technology Management) among others.

Honestly, Eric seemed annoyed that any connection was being drawn between the Shasta Angels and Bethel at all.

Drawing rapidly on his conference room white board, Eric showed me three interconnected circles representing the Economic Development Corporation, Start Up Redding and the Shasta Angels. “This is a fragile, developing, interconnected balance”, he told me several times. “We don’t want to scare away old Redding, they are our foundation, we need them. At the same time, if new people who have come here bring a good concept and good execution, there is no reason not to invest in a profitable idea with a potentially profitable individuals. That’s how we connect old Redding with the best of new Redding,” according to Hiatt.

While the Shasta Angels invest significant finances into the region, their goals are even bigger. They want to shape the next generation of business leaders, influencers and thinkers throughout the region and they hope to do this by offering significant business mentoring alongside their financial investments.

Shasta EDC, the Shasta Angels and Start Up Redding are working on a number of small off shoot projects cooperatively. These include Pub Talks, a kind of local Ted Talks for business, held at Theory Collaborative. I asked about the venue, which is well known to be “Bethel affiliated.” Eric’s response? “They’re a really cool venue and they have good coffee.” One gets the feeling Eric Hiatt doesn’t waste time thinking about what church the owners might go to, and he’s a little impatient that I do.

The Venture Conference is another cooperative project of the three organizations, and Eric is quick to point out that it was his brain baby. “I came up with the idea about five years ago” he said, smiling broadly and asking if I attended. “You should come next year. It’s pretty amazing.”

Pitch Breakfasts, a kind of mini Shark Tank held monthly, are the third project that the Shasta Angels, together with the EDC and StartUp Redding are cooperating on.

As we wrapped up, I wanted to know Mr. Hiatt’s thoughts on the new Shasta County sales tax that’s being proposed. After all, the startups he’s a part of incubating will be some of the potential sources for new tax funds. In response he shared the story of making the building he now works in his own. Located near the “UnSafe-way” downtown, the building was a hub for transients when Mr. Hiatt first bought it. “I came down three times a day for three months, 6 am, 12 am and 3 am. My wife didn’t like it. I told the people sleeping on my property ‘I like you but this is my building now and you can’t sleep here anymore.’ Then, after three months I put a fence up.”

If you want things to change, Mr. Hiatt said, you have to do something.

Does joining a new facebook group count?

Annelise Pierce
Annelise Pierce is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy. She has a special interest in criminal justice, poverty, mental health and education. Her long and storied writing career began at age 11 when she won the Louisa May Alcott Foundation's Gothic Romance short story competition. (Spoiler alert - both hero and heroine die.) Annelise welcomes your (civil) interactions at AnnelisePierce@anewscafe.com
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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    I admit to being jaded, but all I could think as I read this is Bethel even though – and partly because – Hiatt scoffs at the idea that the Angels are affiliated with Bethel. And interesting to learn that Joel Taylor has $1 mil or $200K to kick around.

    Thanks for this interview, Annalise. I’m really not sure of my reaction because of the Bethel presence.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      The who “acredited investor” thing sounds more impressive than it really is. A Californian who started teaching in an average public school at 22 and retired at 55 would have a $1 million net worth just from the present value of their pension. Heck, there are 7 Redding firefighters making over $200k/year.

  2. Avatar Annelise says:

    As a journalist I best like to tell a story that people can use to reach their own conclusions. I rarely reveal my own full perspective in my stories. Thanks for reading, and your thoughtful response.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Excellent article, Annelise. I appreciate you being unbiased and acting as a true journalist. It appears that Mr Hiatt wants to make Redding a better and financially healthy city. It is disheartening to hear about an actual group that has a goal of boycotting Redding businesses based on religion. I wonder what would happen if I formed a group to boycott Muslim businesses. The goal for Redding should be to encourage business start ups and increase our tax base…if we do that, we don’t have to raise sales taxes to pay for a new jail. Again…excellent article. thank you.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Doug,

        The local Muslim community doesn’t have Bethel’s ADMITTED plans (well underway) to “infiltrate” and “take over” local government and everything else in sight (per its 7 Mountains Dominionism ” Expansion Mandate”). According to its leaders, Bethel’s ultimate goal is to make Redding a world-wide example of how to turn an entire city into its version of a theocracy.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Perhaps you can enlighten me on your claim that “…nearly every community group that has sprung up in recent years has either been heavily infiltrated by Bethel, or is a Bethel off-shoot outright.” You know that by sitting in your little cottage 1’000 miles away from Redding?

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            No Doug, I know that by conducting years of research – much of it while I still lived in California.

            There is also such a thing as the internet, which can provide a wealth of information if used properly, and with perseverance.

      • Avatar Annelise says:

        Doug, there are so many who want to make Redding better and financially healthy. The twist of course, is in how they intend to do so. The Shasta Angels seem to be doing so by leveraging their financial resources. Potentially a big win win.

  3. Avatar Rob Belgeri says:

    These are all fancy appellations folks use to describe what they do. What makes them different from venture capitalists? Is it that VCs start out pooling funds, then pooling earnings to be distributed on a contractual basis (vs. individual investment accompanied by individually harvested earnings under the “angel” umbrella)? The other thing that strikes me about all these ventures is they must generate a lot of passive income to permit time for the participants to put so much effort behind non-revenue-generating endeavors like the mini-Shark Tank concept. No derogation implied, just an observation (and perhaps an indicator of the incentive a young business student might have to get into a profession like this). Your article is very educational.

  4. Avatar Leena Stuart says:

    See also: https://anewscafe.com/2016/11/02/redding/former-redding-police-station-attracts-not-one-but-two-suitors-across-the-street-the-bell-rooms-saga-continues/

    I have heard that former Mayor Missy McArthur was a member of SAGE at the time.

    A lack of transparency is classic Old Redding, so I can see how Bethel fits right in with the existing culture.

  5. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Based on years of research into Bethel’s ever-expanding local influence and control, I believe nearly every community group that has sprung up in recent years has either been heavily infiltrated by Bethel, or is a Bethel off-shoot outright. Groups in the second category attempt to disguise their Bethel affiliation, but the goal is always to open avenues of access to various segments of the population, and to influence and/or control local policy-making.

    And of course the ultimate goal is recruitment, and a theocratic local government, with Bethel at the helm (per its “7 Mountains Mandate”). Unfotunately the average local resident doesn’t have the slightest inkling of just how pervasive Bethel’s influence really is.

  6. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Annelise, very good article and I complement Doni for printing these articles that show a different side to New Redding. I consider myself Old Redding and my friends and family still in Redding, including business people, are Old Redding. Whether Bethel is bad or good economically for Redding looks to still be undecided. Do I support their LGBTQ policies, NO. But I grew up in a city dominated by a real Mega Church, Salt Lake City, where the LDS had many discriminatory policies. Over time those polices were changed. Bethel is in it’s infancy compared to the Mormons and maybe their policies will change also.
    One thing I look at is how my daughter, born and raised in Redding/Anderson, who served in the ARMY and now works for the Federal government, her boss is AG Barr, and by association she is labeled a 7 Mountain Doministic wanting to takeover the nation by inserting religious doctrines. To me her attackers have no credibility.
    I think the question should be not how to ban Bethel but how to change their minds.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Bruce,

      Your comment is baffling, to say the least. I don’t know of anyone who has accused rank-and-file federal employees of being Domionionists. However, that label certainly applies to a vast number of people Trump has appointed to head various federal agengices and commissions. These people are admitted God-in-government, Old Testament-banging Dominionists, with stated plans to mis-use their positions of authority to erase the line between church and state and implement a government based on the bible (a short list would include William Barr, Betsy DeVos, Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Rick Severino, Mike Pence, and Jerry Falwell Jr.).

      That doesn’t include the other Bethel-variety Dominionists who comprise Trump’s inner circle of “evangelical” advisors. That inner circle even boasts a close associate of Bethel leader Bill Johnson (Lance Wallnau, who has co-written several books with Johnson on world religious domination).

      Bethel (and the international Dominionist movement, of which it is a key player) may be “in its infancy” compared to the Mormon Church. However, it is by no means insignificant. It has millions of followers and thousands of churches and religious organizations world-wide (many of which are Bethel-affiliated), and commands vast wealth. The financing for Bethel’s upcoming $148 Million mega-church complex isn’t just coming out of its local proceeds.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Bruce, I too consider the subject of Bethel’s impact on Redding to be somewhat nuanced. The connections between people, politics, economics, justice in our small town are complex and full of interconnections. People and organizations are not always what they appear. I wanted to show a little of that here.

  7. Annelise, thank you for another insightful investigative piece that blends the art of storytelling with the ethics of journalism. Well done.

  8. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    If you review the list of Shasta Angels you get a quick picture of who’s making Redding turn around, and I mean several times a day, as in real estate development. Most of the SAs are into real estate sales. You can read between the lines when you read their bios. If the Bethel movement goes further to the Right, you’ll then see the local backlash and Bethel won’t know what’s hit them. Remember Bethel voters, you can’t get anywhere in Sacramento at the Capitol with a candidate who has no political power. Don’t waste your vote on someone who will only be able to vote Nay and send out campaign literature saying there’s no representation for us here in the North State. The legislature will be operated by persons of Moderate to Left on the political spectrum for years to come. It’s time you allowed a person who’ll represent all of the North State, Elizabeth Betancourt. Not someone who cannot reap any benefits for us. It’s all about power under the Capitol Dome.

  9. Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

    What’s with the obsession over which church people attend?

    If a local FB group was dedicated to finding out which businesses were owned by Jews or Muslims, we would be the subject of international condemnation. But stalking the new business listings for suspicious ties to *that* church are cool? Local liberals have lost their ever-loving minds.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Amen brother…or sister.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      And now I see where Drew Brees is being condemned for a video supporting students bringing bibles to class. Why is the Ultra Left so afraid of religion?

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Because your religion doesn’t belong in our government (which includes public education).

        “Christians” are now deliberately pushing the limits (egged on by hate groups masquerading as Christian “legal” organizations), who are looking for any opportunity to bring lawsuits against local governments, school districts, etc. We don’t know how successful most of these threatened lawsuits would actually be, since most local governments just cave to these fanatical extortionists at the first threat.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      AH – See my post above in response to Doug, who made the same uninformed and/or disingenuous statement.

    • Avatar Ann Webber says:

      I would recommend that you read up on the seven mountains mandate, which is the Bethel goal structure. This is what people are concerned about. They are also discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. Why anonymous?

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      I’m not a member of the “Bethel business watch list”. I don’t however frequent a few businesses that I personally know have strong ties to Bethel Church unless it’s unavoidable. I personally don’t care which church one attends; that’s their right and I’m not religious. I simply don’t support Bethel’s very public anti-gay positions and public support/backing/promoting politicians and legislation of the same mindset. Those decisions of who and what to support are Bethel and Bethel attendee’s prerogative to make. That said, it stands to reason that it’s also my prerogative to choose to not support them however I deem fit whether it be in the form of written protest/push back in response to their attempts to sway anti-LGBTQ+ legislation or whether it be where I choose to spend my dollars or place my votes. That doesn’t translate to me having “lost my mind”; instead it translates as me exercising my personal freedoms; just as Bethel attendees do. Too bad some of those attendees and Elders are bent on denying personal freedoms of others. Vote Betancourt.

  10. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Patrecia writes:

    “….with stated plans to mis-use their positions of authority to erase the line between church and state and implement a government based on the bible (a short list would include William Barr, Betsy DeVos, Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Rick Severino, Mike Pence, and Jerry Falwell Jr.).”

    I was raised Seventh-day Adventist and though I cannot comment on the other individuals mentioned above, I can state unequivocally that the SDA church, of which Dr. Ben Carson is a member, is adamant in its support of separation of church and state, and continues to publish a magazine dedicated to religious liberty. http://libertymagazine.org

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Richard,

      First of all, I’m not finding what you referred to in your link.

      Secondly, Ben Carson is a flaming, God-in-government Dominionist who wants to return America to the Christian principles on which he claims it was founded, and to do away with the Johnson Amendment so that church leaders can openly endorse political candidates and preach politics from the pulpit. He also travels the country using government resources and on the taxpayer’s dime to promote Christianity at religious events (among other activities in which he mingles religion and government). There is no such thing as the separation of church and state in Ben Carson’s fanatical mind.

      https://freedompublications.blogspot.com/2016/11/ben-carson-has-big-ideas-about-how.html

  11. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Annelise, you are an amazing journalist. Thank you for this excellent article.

  12. Avatar Randy says:

    I have no problems with organized religion but I do have problems with religious organizations using their tax free status to build financial and political power.

  13. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    I checked out the Shasta Angels website and was amazed by the diversity of businesses they’ve supported. So sure, I’m jealous. Should have worked on becoming an accredited investor instead of teaching high school math. I wonder if it’s too late?