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Lansing Aerotropolis, Incubators Statewide Get State Help

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LANSING — Work to establish Port Lansing into a cargo and logistics focused Aerotropolis moved forward Wednesday with the Michigan Strategic Fund designating the city of Lansing, DeWitt Charter Township and the Capital Regional Airport Authority as the state’s second Next Michigan Development Corporation.

The MSF also announced $6 million in funding for 12 business incubators all over the state.

As a Next Michigan Development Corporation, Port Lansing will be able to use state and local incentives, including Renaissance Zones and Tax Increment Financing Authorities, to attract new tenants and build a comprehensive industrial park.

“This designation will accelerate efforts already under way to transform Port Lansing into a center of economic development activity and a hub for commerce and freight logistics in the region,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney.

The primary focus of Port Lansing will be property owned by the Capital Region Airport. While the property is located in DeWitt Township, the township and the city of Lansing entered into an agreement under PA 425 of 1984. This allows the city of Lansing to operate as the Eligible Urban Entity within the NMDC designation and leverage city resources on behalf of Port Lansing, even though the property is not within the Lansing city limits.

Under the NMDC legislation, businesses attracted as part of the NMDC designation must use a minimum of two out of four transportation modes (freight, air, rail or water). Port Lansing will concentrate on businesses that use freight and air for cargo and logistic purposes. The statute allows for only five such designations statewide and only two designations per calendar year.

In February, the MSF awarded the first NMDC designation to the Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corporation, with Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run Airports as the central development hubs.

As for the incubators, Finney said: “Early-stage companies require seed capital and access to a strong network of public and private resources. We are confident that with the funding of these organizations and the types of services they will provide, we will continue to accelerate the growth of innovative technology start-ups in Michigan.”

In October, the MEDC issued a Request for Proposals for grants of up to $2 million. Of the 23 proposals that were submitted, 12 were chosen for grants.

In order to be considered for a grant, applicants were required to submit a comprehensive business plan for delivering entrepreneurial services to start-up businesses, such as marketing assistance, legal services, and training. Applicants were required to develop a dashboard of indicators to measure the effectiveness of the business incubator and accelerator programs that also ties to the state’s strategic goals.

In June 2011, the Michigan Legislature mandated that a portion of the funds appropriated to the Michigan Strategic Fund for innovation and entrepreneurship be used for business incubators and accelerators located in the following governmental units: Houghton County, Kent County, Macomb County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, a city with a population greater than 650,000, and a Midland County satellite site of an incubator located in Isabella County.

The MSF also considered proposals from entities located in other governmental units provided that no governmental unit receives more than one award.

The grants went to the following incubators and accelerators:

* Michigan Tech Enterprise Corp., Houghton County, $750,000
* Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Financing Authority, Kent County, $500,000
* Macomb OU Incubator, Macomb County, $500,000
* Automation Alley, Oakland County, $625,000
* Ann Arbor Spark, Washtenaw County, $500,000
* Wayne State University Research and Technology Park, Tech Town, Bizdom U, Detroit, $875,000
* MidMichigan Innovation Center, Midland County, satellite site of an incubator located in Isabella County, $500,000
* Lansing Regional SmartZone Local Development Financing Authority, Lansing, Ingham County, $150,000
* Kettering University, Flint, Genesee County, $150,000
* Central Michigan University Research Center, Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County, $350,000
* West Central Michigan Collaborative (The Starting Block & The Stream) Hart, Oceana County, Newaygo, Newaygo County, $500,000
* Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, $500,000

More at www.michiganadvantage.org.

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