Park City Angels founders Ted McAleer, Andrew Gutman and Dan McPhun

As the economy continues to struggle, a group of guardian angels are investing in Park City companies, which in turn, helps locals get back to work.

Park City Angels, who invest in local seed companies, receives nearly 400 applications every year from Utah entrepreneurs looking for investments to help grow their businesses from the early stages. Members end up picking about five businesses each year to take a chance on and help push the brands. If the company is successful, Angels see a return on investments.

So far, the Angels have invested $13.65 million in 33 companies, including Park City hot spot High West Distillery.

The group meets regularly all over Park City, including the Glenwild Club and Utah Olympic Park, to discuss the merits of companies they think will succeed. “It could be a medical company, a clean tech company or any type of technology,” says Dan McPhun, a program co-founder and venture capitalist. “And they all come from Utah.”

When the group invites a company to an interview, the member with the most experience in that company’s field usually leads the discussion. “That’s an advantage to having an investment network with so many industry executives, here in Park City,” says Ted McAleer, co-founder of Park City Angels and executive director of the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR). “There’s nowhere else in Utah that has that.”

McPhun and McAleer came up with the idea to form the Angels about six years ago, trying to find a way to get the Park City investor community to take an interest in Utah deals. Joined by fellow founders Andrew Gutman and Stan Kanarowski, they got the group running one year later. Now the group is catching on and growing fast. As of Dec. 31, 2012, they had 71 dues paying members, but started that year with 42.

Angels also offer local companies guidance. “We learned that through the world of hard knocks,” McPhun says. “We have to be more active and participate, almost managing the company or being involved in information rights to protect and secure our asset.”

To be an Angel, you have to own property in Park City or Summit County and be an accredited investor—meaning the Securities and Exchange Commission knows you have a net worth of at least $1 million or earned $250,000 per year for three consecutive years.

Looking for an investment? Visit parkcityangels.com. For tips on landing it, visit Park City Angel member Marco Messina’s blog, angelpitchguy.com.