HOUGHTON, Michigan (October 24, 2011) – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) held three ‘think’ sessions in 1999, aimed to prevent the state from becoming part of the ‘rust belt.’ One of the meetings was held in Houghton.The eventual result would be the creation of 15 SmartZones throughout Michigan, including MTEC SmartZone.
SmartZones (SM) are distinct locations where technology-based entrepreneurs and companies can locate in close proximity to community programs, resources and funding. These technology clusters promote collaboration between universities, industry, research and government to grow technology-based businesses and jobs and keep technology workers in Michigan.
After the Michigan Economic Development Alliance (MEDC) announced the SmartZone program in 2000, officials from Michigan Technological University, the cities of Houghton and Hancock and Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) came together to brainstorm how to build a local SmartZone. Together these groups worked to create MTEC SmartZone, opening the first office in the Powerhouse building in Downtown Houghton in 2003. A few months later the first entrepreneur, GS Engineering, moved in and eventually 60 jobs were created.
MTEC SmartZone has greatly benefitted the local economy. Over 500 jobs have been created and 25 companies have received support. In addition, the demand for space and the growing number of companies has led to four incubator locations. MTEC SmartZone direct services are expanding and the service provider network for these companies continues to grow stronger. MTEC SmartZone has had a positive impact on the economy and has great plans to continue moving forward.
In Lansing, SmartZones continue to hold a key to Michigan’s economic future. Governor Snyder has first-hand experience working with SmartZones, having served as the first chair of the MEDC. For MTEC SmartZone, the strategic planning team of Jonathan Leinonen, MTEC SmartZone Program Director; Marilyn Clark, Consultant; Phil Musser, Executive Director of KEDA; Jim Baker, Director of Technology and Economic Development at Michigan Tech and Karyn Olsson, owner of Marketing Department Inc., will soon unveil their 10-year vision, which includes the creation of 750 jobs.
Through strong connections with community partners and a commitment to advancing high-tech business growth, MTEC SmartZone has positively impacted the communities Houghton and Hancock for over 10 years. New plans for increased job growth will further benefit the region.