MTEC SmartZone’s SmartStart program assists 35 start-ups, creates 20 new local jobs, earning Keweenaw Spark Plug award for ‘Growth’

HOUGHTON, Michigan (March 14, 2014) – SmartStart, MTEC SmartZone’s entrepreneurial coaching program, received the Keweenaw Spark Plug award for “Growth,” during the second annual local business awards ceremony. The Keweenaw Spark Plug Awards are presented by the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce and Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA), along with co-sponsors MTEC SmartZone and Keweenaw Young Professionals. The event is designed to recognize local business and individuals for their efforts in 2013.

The Keweenaw Spark Plug award for Growth recognizes a company that has seen significant growth in employment and/or sales during the previous year. Since its inception in July 2012, SmartStart assisted in the growth of 35 start-ups, 54 participants enrolled and more than 20 new local jobs were created.

SmartStart is a collaboration between MTEC SmartZone and Michigan Technological University, designed to help introduce entrepreneurs and aspiring innovators to the fundamentals of starting a company and commercializing new technology. Graduates of the program have access to experienced business experts to help turn their ideas into successful businesses.

Jim Baker, executive director of innovation and industry engagement at Michigan Tech and KEDA Board President, presented the award to SmartStart Program Director Julie Melchiori. “She is a major contributor to its success. Her efforts have made the program what it is today,” Baker said.

For more information about SmartStart, contact Program Director Julie Melchiori at (906) 487-7000, email or visit