The Central Michigan University Research Corp. board of directors today voted to fund an expansion that will establish new facilities in two cities within the Great Lakes Bay Region. The move will give entrepreneurs and businesses across the region better access to growth and job creation tools that have the power to boost local economies.
One new facility is planned for Bay City. Details on the second city and buildings in both locations will be finalized in the coming months.
"Developing partnerships that improve quality of life and strengthen communities is one of our priorities at CMU," said George E. Ross, president of CMU and chair of the CMURC board of directors. "This facility will bring CMURC's expertise, resources and pipelines, but also CMU, directly to Bay City and other communities."
CMURC is a business accelerator headquartered in the Mount Pleasant SmartZone adjacent to CMU. The accelerator — a nonprofit created as part of a Michigan Economic Development Corp. initiative — is charged with bringing together experts from higher education and other sectors to help startups or existing businesses grow and create jobs. The MEDC has recognized CMURC as one of the top SmartZone business accelerators in the state.
Like the Mount Pleasant facility, CMURC's two new spaces will serve as hubs to connect entrepreneurs to each other and the tools they need. Staff work with local businesses, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and Central Michigan University to harness and make available the intellectual, technological and material resources that help businesses thrive.
"We're excited about the opportunity to guide the development of businesses that will boost the local tax base, create jobs and, ultimately, make our communities more vibrant," said Erin Strang, president and CEO of CMURC.
More than 75 entrepreneurs and businesses are members of CMURC through its Right Choice, Exchange and Passport programs. Members include CMU professors, college students and other community members from Isabella and surrounding counties looking to move their initial business ideas forward. Established companies also leverage the work space as a remote office or seek CMURC's guidance to reach the next step in their growth.
Services range from assistance with business plan development, commercial assessments, connections to resources for prototype development, crowdfunding platform access and networking opportunities with fellow members. CMURC business development managers work with individuals and companies to tailor the experience to their needs.
"We have created scalable programs to serve the region, but this expansion will allow us to better serve entrepreneurs and make all that CMURC has to offer even more accessible," said Strang.