MTEC SmartZone welcomes two new tenants to Jutila Center

Early Spring Productions and LeClaire Surveying Services LLC create 5 new jobs in Hancock

HANCOCK, Michigan (June 20, 2013) – Two start-up ventures hit the ground running this month with support from MTEC SmartZone. Early Spring Productions, LLC and LeClaire Surveying Services, LLC are the newest tenants of Jutila Center business incubator, and combined, they’ve created five new jobs in Hancock.

Both companies opened offices in Jutila Center after successfully completing MTEC SmartZone’s SmartStart program, which is required to become an incubator tenant. SmartStart provides mentoring and coaching assistance to entrepreneurs with a business idea or product.

Early Spring Productions

Early Spring Productions creates full-length feature films and professional videos. Company founder, Rick Allen, who made a name for himself locally in radio and television news, currently employs three students who work part-time. Projects in the works include community videos for the cities of Houghton and Hancock and a FinnFest USA 2013 commemorative DVD.

“We’ve established a partnership with Michigan Technological University and Finlandia University to utilize student talent in the Visual and Performing Arts department and the International School of Art and Design. I provide training and real-world experience for students and recent graduates,” Allen said. “We’re unconventional in that we’re not a high-tech company, but we’re using high-tech equipment that requires sound engineers, lighting technicians, stage designers and graphic artists.”

LeClaire Surveying

LeClaire Surveying specializes in a non-traditional surveying technique that’s more efficient, less labor-intensive and more cost-effective to perform. Close Range Photogrammetry (CRP) uses special software to process two-dimensional digital images to produce three-dimensional models of subjects such as buildings, bridges, landscapes, machine parts, accident scenes, people and animals.

Company founder Steve LeClaire, who has nearly 20 years of land surveying experience, realized a local and regional demand for CRP services to aid architects, engineers, contractors, law enforcement and historical preservationists.

“CRP is something I’ve been considering for over 10 years and this is a great opportunity to make it happen,” LeClaire said. “With the support of MTEC SmartZone and everyone in the community, CRP is going to become something that’s successful and in demand.”

LeClaire Surveying, which also offers a full-range of traditional land surveying services, currently employs two students who work part-time.

SmartStart Program Director Julie Melchiori said both founders demonstrated great potential for growth and success. “Rick has identified a need and opportunity based on his experience, and skills of the students,” she said. “Steve is combining his vast surveying knowledge and Close Range Photogrammetry techniques that were not available locally.”

Crediting MTEC SmartZone for their support of economic development, Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson said both companies are a valuable addition to the city. “Jutila Center has proven to be a great job creation strategy for the city of Hancock,” he said. “Technologies, service, health care and other types of businesses are utilizing Finlandia and Michigan Tech students as a big growth resource.”

As tenants of MTEC SmartZone, companies receive business development assistance with the goal of becoming a sustainable and growing business in the community. Support includes one-on-one coaching and mentoring, office space, business plan development, financial planning and more.

For more information about Early Spring Productions, please visit For more information about LeClaire Surveying, please visit

For more information about MTEC SmartZone, please visit