While Michigan is asserting itself as a hub of talent in many diverse industries, there may not be a sector experiencing as much growth as technology entrepreneurship and innovation.

Read below as Paula Sorrell from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation shares  her experience with the changing entrepreneurship landscape in Michigan and changing perception nation-wide.

I recently spoke to a great group of students and budding entrepreneurs at MSU, who shared some of the perceptions about starting a tech company, including needing to be located in Silicon Valley to get funded and find tech talent.

For Michigan, this is a lay-up.  Very few states offer any type of support for early stage tech companies to get off the ground (California isn’t one of them).  The cost of living on the coasts is close to prohibitive for young companies.  Besides the funding support to help companies get started – and those coming out of a university have an incredibly high 75 percent five-year survival rate – the talent question for early tech companies is addressed on several fronts:

1)      The tech transfer offices at Michigan’s universities employ 19 part-time mentors in residence.  These experienced entrepreneurs help companies build their strategies and develop their products to be ready for funding.  They could be retired on a beach but instead choose to give back to the state and the university by dedicating time to helping companies move forward.  Many of them opt to join a new company after their engagement with the university.

2)      The SBDC Tech Team are also mostly made up of nine experienced tech entrepreneurs who help companies create their technology roadmaps, guide them through strategic decisions, and annually help companies in Michigan raise more than $60 million in follow-on funding.

3)      The Tech Transfer Talent Network allows post docs or grad students working on research to continue to build their tech businesses and stay in the state.

4)      The Hacker Fellows program trains coders to work in tech startups, where they join the best and the brightest.  There are a number of fellows programs that operate around the state and particularly in Detroit – I’m always impressed with their intelligence and dedication.

5)      The Michigan I-Corps program teaches tech entrepreneurs in our state’s universities how to get customer validation and assess market need for technologies.

6)      The Smart Zone Incubators and the Business Accelerator Fund match consultants and mentors with tech companies on a regular basis.  They work with the community to identify appropriate “help” and advice for companies.

7)      Amy Cell Talent is focused on connecting tech talent needs with her vast network of people interested in moving to Michigan or identifying new opportunities in high growth companies.

Finally, the students and researchers themselves are an incredibly impressive group at our universities.  They are amazing technologists, courageous risk-takers, and fascinating innovators.  Because Michigan has outstanding universities and faculty, staff and students who are willing to tread new waters in entrepreneurship, we are certainly the state with the largest advantage.

Paula Sorrell is vice president of entrepreneurship, innovation & venture capital for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). She oversees $1billion under management to support Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including university research and tech transfer, technology service providers, business incubators, seed funding programs, portfolio investments and fund to funds (200+ contracts in all).

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As Michigan’s economy continues to improve, more and better jobs are being created across the state. Currently, there are more than 90,000 jobs available on MiTalent.org, the state of Michigan’s official labor exchange system.

If you are looking for a job, or thinking about a new career, be sure to join the state of Michigan’s upcoming #MiJobChat Twitter Chat hosted by Pure Michigan Talent Connect on Tuesday, May 19th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST! 

“Get your questions ready! We’ll be chatting about job search techniques and best practices, tips on perfecting your resume, job opportunities and resources available to job seekers and much more,” said the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s, Andrew Belanger, Project Manager of Talent Resources and Social Media Manager for MiTalent.org.

During the Twitter Chat employers, recruiters and workforce development partners from the following organizations will be participating:

“We are excited to have several featured partners participate in our first statewide Twitter chat. In addition to those featured partners, we are encouraging other workforce partners, employers and HR professionals to join the conversation. With a goal to assist job seekers with their job search and connect them with available resources and opportunities we are looking forward to the chat and promoting Michigan as a great place to live, work and play,” said Belanger.

Here’s how you can participate in 5 simple steps: 

1. Follow @MiTalentOrg on Twitter.

2. Sign in to Twitter on May 19th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST. You can join us for a few questions or stay for the hour!

3. Tweet your questions to @MiTalentOrg. Make sure to use the hashtag #MiJobChat in your tweet.

4.  Look out for our career tips from @MiTalentOrg and our featured partners during the chat.  Tweet your responses using hash tag, #MiJobChat.

5. Follow the #MiJobChat conversation on Twitter for tips and advice on finding the perfect opportunity for you.

MiTalent.org is your launch pad for new jobs, careers, and talent.  It is an online marketplace connecting Michigan’s job seekers and employers, and serves as a central hub linking all public and private stakeholders who support Michigan’s workforce.

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Students often think that a successful career requires a four-year degree, but competitive training programs are starting to change that perception in Michigan.

Programs like Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT 2) offer students paid, on-the-job training while immersing them in the skilled trades in class. In addition to the invaluable experience, students gain the opportunity to work with organizations across the state, many of which are seeking future employees.

Since 2013, more than 1,000 students have applied to be part of MAT2, allowing participating companies to benefit from working with and training Michigan’s future workforce.

Rebekka Neumann, a current MAT2 student in the Mechatronics cohort at Henry Ford Community College, appreciates that the program doesn’t focus on the traditional type of learning and that the lessons she learns apply directly to her job.

“You’re doing a lot of the work you’d be doing at the workplace,” said Neumann “You’re learning with hands on experience, instead of just books.”

As the need for talent in Michigan’s skilled trades grows, so does the opportunity for students to take part in these programs.

Within the year, MAT2’s specialized programs will open in Baker College – Cadillac, Lansing Community College, Mott Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Henry Ford College and Delta College.

While not everything can be taught in MAT2’s classrooms, the hands-on experience that students receive at their jobs creates an engaging and realistic dual education system that produces optimal training for future careers.

“There are things that you can’t learn at the MAT2 program, but the job training supplements that,” Neumann said.

Similar to a four-year university, MAT2 students have the choice to select the specialized program that will best fit their needs and skills sets. Under the MAT2 umbrella, programs dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) allow students a broad range of training choices.

Mechatronics, IT Technician, Technical Product Design (TPD) and Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) are programs continuing to expand to Michigan’s community colleges and technical schools, bringing more notice to a program unlike any of its kind.

These programs fit the MAT2 model of a work/education blend while putting focus on each trade’s specific training needs.

One field that has gained interested is information technology (IT).

Secure-24 , a premier provider of managed IT operations, is one Michigan-based business that serves as a sponsor of the MAT2 program, and currently has four students working at their Southfield location.

Matt Goodrich, a special projects manager for the IOC at Secure-24 and MAT2 program chair, sees the program as a winning combination for the students, companies and industry as a whole.

“MAT2 is unique in the fact that it’s shifting the paradigm of the way organizations find employees and help them grow,” Goodrich said. “This new approach is changing how we develop the future workforce.”

With the skills and experience gained right out of high school, students engaging in IT and other STEM positions are creating pathways to lasting careers while filling the talent gap in Michigan.

“Programs like MAT2 are the future of education and industry,” Goodrich continued. “It’s rare to see a program that offers benefits in so many diverse ways, which is why MAT2 is finding success early on.”

While there are clear benefits to earning a four-year degree, there are also emerging opportunities in specialized training programs yielding careers in growing industries.

For Rebekka and other MAT 2 students, the combination of education and real-world experience is helping them stand out to future employers while gaining personal and professional growth.

Pure Michigan Talent Connect is inviting Michigan employers to participate in the Fall 2015 program. For more information and to learn about the many employer benefits, visit http://www.mitalent.org/mat2-employer-information/

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Stepping into a historic building, you cross the threshold of time. You are now in an era of the past – looking into what used to be. Unfortunately, many architectural time machines lose their luster, beaten down with the passing of time.

Every community has them — buildings with a rich history buried beneath the layers of dust on once-beautiful crown molding. Standing in the middle of history, looking up at unique architectural design – not only can you see into the past, but you can catch a glimpse of the future.

These testimonials to time helped build communities and create a sense of place, and many are coming to life once again.  The State Historic Preservation Office is celebrating five preservation projects through the 2015 Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation. The recipients are:

  • Roxbury Group, Trans Inns Management, Kraemer Design Group, PLC, and Walbridge for the rehabilitation of the David Whitney Building, Detroit
  • Woda Group, Hooker DeJong Architects & Engineers, and the City of Menominee for the rehabilitation of Lloyd’s Department Store, Menominee
  • Michigan Department of Transportation, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, and Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group, Inc. for the US-31/ M-231 Holland to Grand Haven Archaeological Data Recoveries
  • Friends of the Bohm Theatre, Albion Community Foundation, the Greater Albion Community, Mitchell and Mouat Architects and Gordon Martin Builder, Inc. for the rehabilitation of the Bohm Theatre, Albion
  • Eyde Company, Quinn Evans Architects, and Granger Construction for the rehabilitation of the J. W. Knapp Company Building, Lansing

“I think people now appreciate that these things can get done…Because once [they’re] gone, something might replace them – but I can assure you that the greatest thing that was ever on that site is gone,” said David Di Rita, Principal at Roxbury Group, who assisted with the rehabilitation of the David Whitney Building.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) community development focus is on creating vibrant, sustainable and unique places where talent, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and grow. Historical preservation is a critical component.

MEDC helped secure a $1 million Community Redevelopment Program grant and $7.5 million performance based loan and Michigan Business Tax credits valued at $9 million to help breathe new life into Detroit’s Whitney Building, including an Aloft boutique hotel, restaurants and bars, retailers, and apartments.

In Albion, MEDC worked with the city to direct $592,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to fully restore the Bohm Theatre. Other support included bank financing from Comerica Bank, a grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation and a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.








“Historic preservation – one of the great things about it is you’re not putting money into materials, you’re putting money into people…You’re paying people who live and work here rather than ordering supplies from some other state to fill a need,” said Elizabeth Schultheiss, Executive Director at Albion Community Foundation, a partner in the restoration of the Bohm Theatre.

State brownfield incentives and a Renaissance Zone designation supported by MEDC helped convince the Eyde Company to take on the redevelopment of the W. Knapp Company Building in Lansing.







“In a building like this, it’s more than just a pure economic deal – it’s something that is a catalyst for a downtown, it’s something for the city to be proud of. It’s much more than just restoring an old historic building, it’s truly a showpiece, something people can really be proud of,” said Karl Dorshimer, Director of Business Development at Lansing Economic Area Partnership.

“From a public benefit standpoint, it is worth the investment of these incentives and that’s why they were designed.”

To access MEDC’s community development toolkit, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/community/development-assistance.

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A Walk through Michigan’s National Parks

May 1, 2015 Economic Development

National parks are more than scenic escapes – they are economic drivers. The proof is in the numbers. Michigan’s national parks brought in more than 1,993,138 visitors in 2014 – contributing more than $212 million to Michigan’s economy, and 2,728 jobs for Michigan residents. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore With 1,395,400 visitors in 2014, the [...]

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Michigan Has Great Terroir for Wine Entrepreneurs

April 28, 2015 Agri-Business

It was almost 10 years ago when Steve Grossnickle, a successful ophthalmologist in Indiana, was inspired by a remark from his son about wineries while at their family cabin in Leelanau County. As Steve’s Indiana-based ophthalmology practice had grown to include four offices, he had also been watching the wine industry in Michigan grow. “We’ve [...]

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Michigan Tourism: As The Number of Michigan Visitors and Spending Grows, so do Jobs

April 23, 2015 Business Growth

In 1997, after Brian Lawson graduated from Butler University, he moved to Traverse City to begin a career in broadcast television.  After covering golf and skiing at Crystal Mountain, the culture inspired him to begin working in Michigan’s tourism industry. Now, as director of public relations at Crystal Mountain, Lawson enjoys working in a business [...]

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Sixth Annual Michigan HR Day Set to Draw Record Attendance

April 14, 2015 Business Growth

On April 16, human resources professionals from across Michigan will descend on Lansing for the 6th Annual Michigan HR Day as an opportunity to exchange information, ideas and experiences. The one day summit will focus on HR best practices and attracting and retaining talent across the Great Lakes state. Proclaimed HR Day by Gov. Rick [...]

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Shell Eco-marathon Arrives in Detroit

April 8, 2015 Community Development

After five years in Houston, the Shell Eco-marathon Americas is coming to Detroit, sparking conversation about the future of mobility. The Shell Eco-marathon is a competitive challenge involving student teams from around the world to design, build and test ultra-energy efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, winners will be teams [...]

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By The Numbers: Nine Facts About National Beer Day in Michigan

April 7, 2015 Business Growth

Each year on April 7, beer enthusiasts across Michigan and the United States join in celebrating National Beer Day as an unofficial holiday honoring craft and domestic brews. Bolstered by the Great Lakes and nurtured by the glacier-rich soil, Michigan is known as a brewer’s paradise. With countless varieties of styles and tastes, Michigan’s more [...]

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