Grants up to 50K for emerging companies available at MAREC

January 28, 2012
| By Pete Daly |
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Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon is now part of a state grant program to help growing, high-tech Michigan companies access accelerator services designed to leverage business development and job growth.

The state’s Business Accelerator Fund, managed by the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center at GVSU, will allow MAREC to identify and enable qualified Michigan companies in high-priority sectors to pursue business development grants up to $50,000. The program was launched in December with $3.5 million in state funds; MAREC is one of 15 Michigan SmartZones eligible for the program.

Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC, said this is “a win-win for technology-oriented companies in West Michigan that have successfully launched their business efforts but need additional services and support to become viable long term.”

“Not only can we help promising companies obtain accelerator services, we can also open the door to an additional pool of capital for business growth and development services while ensuring that the funds companies receive are spent effectively,” he added.

Accelerator services through BAF include positioning a company to attract private capital, developing a stronger business plan or marketing strategy and securing the first customer. Service providers may be consulting firms, law firms, universities, manufacturers, engineers and others that enhance business growth.

Services that can be funded through BAF will address needs for business plans, market research, patent searches, employee agreements, technology development, internships, access to expertise, prototyping and product testing.

“We see several elements of BAF that will make it particularly effective in creating jobs and providing a multiplier effect for business growth throughout the state,” said Jim Edmonson, BAF project manager for MAREC.

According to Boezaart, the BAF program is aimed at companies with characteristics that provide the highest return on investment for business and job growth. Preference goes to high-technology firms in sectors such as renewable energy, life sciences, homeland security and defense, advanced manufacturing and materials and others. Eligible companies must be based in Michigan and have raised less than $1 million in private investments, with annual revenues less than $2.5 million.

Capital improvements, salaries and production expenses do not qualify for BAF funding. Michigan SmartZone business accelerators such as MAREC will screen BAF applications, channel funds to service providers and monitor use of the funds.

The Business Accelerator Fund was created through an agreement between the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and MI-SBTDC, with funding coming from the state’s 21st Century Jobs Fund within the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The first round of BAF funding is available through Sept. 30. Contact Boezaart at (616) 331-6901 (boezaart@gvsu.edu), or Edmonson at (231) 557-8543 (jbedmonson@aol.com) for more information. More information is also found on the MAREC website at www.gvsu.edu/marec

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