Keweenaw – Upper Michigan’s Hub for Entrepreneurism: Over 60 small businesses started in the past five years

HOUGHTON, Michigan (October 20, 2011) – In the past five years, entrepreneurs have started over 60 companies with support services from local organizations, making Houghton-Hancock a hub for entrepreneurism.


For entrepreneurs in Michigan’s remote Keweenaw Peninsula, programs and resources to launch small business are extensive, no matter what type of business: MTEC SmartZone for technology companies, Entrepreneur Support Center for people with ideas, Finlandia University’s Jutila Business Incubator for retail, services, health and wellness. In addition, Michigan Technological University recently created Superior Innovations, a starting point for students and faculty to take their discoveries from labs and classrooms into the marketplace. MTEC SmartZone has strong relationships with many community resources for entrepreneurs.


Programs through MTEC SmartZone, combined with an expert team of professionals with real-world experience, provide assistance to students, start-ups and small businesses. “Ultimately, whether student-entrepreneurs or established MTEC SmartZone companies, our tenants are more competitive when seeking capital because of our connectivity to community and statewide resources,” states MTEC SmartZone Program Director Jonathan Leinonen. The expert team at MTEC SmartZone has extensive experience finding specific funding for all types of entrepreneurs – from four thousand to a half million dollars. MTEC SmartZone’s greatest resource is access to statewide resources, including loan money.


Talon Research accelerated with funding sought by MTEC SmartZone and with Leinonen’s guidance. Talon Research utilized the Superior Edge Fund, a revolving loan fund, to finance pilot activities for their BridgeGaurd products. “Jon brings real world experience to the table. He has alleviated many of the ‘new business’ challenges and concerns we faced when launching Talon and he’s always there to help out – or get the resources we need,” remarks Jay Ruohonen, President of Talon Research Inc.


To expand resources and opportunities, MTEC SmartZone and Finlandia University partnered through a grant to create the Entrepreneur Support Center (ESC) in Hancock. Since the doors opened in May 2010, 29 companies have signed up for services and 15 LLCs have been filed. These start-ups receive step-by-step assistance and grant money to help them afford higher-level consulting.


The Finlandia University Jutila Center for Global Design and Business opened in 2005, creating a business incubator community of design and retail spaces. Today, over 20 service and retail businesses occupy the Jutila Center. Entrepreneurs are able to collaborate – sharing ideas, equipment and workspace. The Center is a resource for community entrepreneurs seeking training, consultation and inspiration.


Michigan Tech’s recent creation of Superior Innovations, intended to service the Tech community, is expected to start feeding companies into MTEC SmartZone as they build their businesses.


Community-wide, these incubators and programs are open and available to anyone with an idea, product or service. Proven programs help guide entrepreneurs through business plan development, product development, marketing assistance and funding avenues. With many customized programs and resources available, and dedicated, experienced teams, the Keweenaw can position itself as a regional hub for entrepreneurism.


For more information about MTEC SmartZone, call (906) 487-7000.