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Sih resigns from EDC board after report on payday lending connection

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Herb Sih, managing partner and co-founder of Think Big Partners LLC, has resigned from the Board of Directors of the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City.

On Friday, Sih submitted a letter of resignation to Mayor Sly James stating his intent to resign from the board. The Mayor's office released the following statements on the resignation:

"Herb brought valuable expertise from the high-tech, startup community to the EDC Board of Directors, and I have appreciated his commitment to the organization," James said. "I respect his decision to act in the best interests of the EDC and its mission."

Michael Grimaldi, a spokesman for James, said the mayor has "nothing to say on this topic" beyond the statement. Bob Langenkamp, CEO of the EDC, could not be reached for comment on the resignation.

Sih's resignation followed an article that appeared in alternative weekly newspaper The Pitch on June 16. The article focused on Sih's ties to payday lending companies. According to Sih's LinkedIn page, he was the co-founder of a firm called Clickspeed between 2002 and 2009. Sih said he did not lead Clickspeed. According to the Pitch article, the firm specialized in lead generation for the payday-lending industry.

James, who appointed Sih

to the EDC board in January 2014, recently participated in a public forum about payday lending. during which he likened the lenders to roaches.

"I am extremely proud of my volunteer service at the EDC in support of advancing Kansas City," Sih said in an emailed statement to the Kansas City Business Journal. "My decision to step down had everything to do with my belief in the leadership of Kansas City, support for the EDC being able to focus on its core mission and to support our company’s ability to continue to do the work that we have done for the past five years to support entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation in our community.

"Being able to remove any distractions, eliminate any perceptions of conflict of interest and being able to focus on the right things is of the utmost importance to all stakeholders, our city and my family."

Since 2001, Sih has helped start more than 20 companies, including software, call center, digital marketing and consumer services firms. Prior to co-founding Think Big in 2009, Sih also spent 15 years in the investment industry.

Think Big, a startup incubator and coworking space, will play a large role in leading the "living lab" component of the city's $15 million smart city initiative. The public-private partnership, led by Cisco Systems Inc. aims to upgrade the city's technical infrastructure.

Category: Payday loans

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