Homeland Security Makes Local Debut

August 14, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Michigan Homeland Security Consortium is hosting its first West Michigan event this Wednesday at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Heavy with technology firms, the group launched in June with an inaugural meeting in Brighton

Roughly 30 firms attended the first meeting, which was well represented by West Michigan companies, including founders Keith Brophy of NuSoft Solutions and David Hines of SecureMatrix. Also represented were local technology firms iMart and C/D/H.

While the group's membership is today primarily technology firms, it is open to all companies affiliated with the industry, with a primary emphasis on companies with a product directed at that market.

"Our goal is to increase the awareness of this space in Michigan, increase collaboration between firms, and to increase access to venture capital and information," said Brophy. "The collective thought is to grow the slice of the pie for Michigan."

The group defines homeland security loosely, incorporating aspects of law enforcement and, to a certain degree, traditional functions of the Department of Defense, as well as security solutions. Examples of products marketed by member companies include NuSoft's mobility and tracking solutions, used by police departments and the U.S. Army, and a satellite surveillance program produced by a Lansing firm. Potential customers could include police departments, municipalities, college campuses, ports and any organization with a public safety concern.

"But we're going after the middle-range solutions," Brophy said. "Products that could improve response time in the event of a crisis, or prevention measures."

Modeled after health care consortium MichBio, the fledgling trade association has received non-financial support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Michigan Small Business and TechnologyDevelopmentCenter and The Right Place Inc.

The MEDC also has introduced the group to similar organizations in New Jersey and Maryland

Brophy believes the group can play a key role in helping emerging firms "bootstrap" toward success, a capacity other development groups might not be able to fill.

"We'll have access to the entrepreneur developing a homeland security solution in his basement that the public sector won't," Brophy said.

Additional meetings are on tap for Lansing on Sept. 11, with guest speaker Michael Rogers, the Republican U.S. Representative from Lansing. Other meetings are slated for Detroit, Mackinac Island and Traverse City later in the year.

Barry Cargill, principal of association management firm B. Cargill Associates and former vice president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, was last week named MHSC executive director.    

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