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MAREC Joins State Funded Business Accelerator Program

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Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center on the Lake Muskegon shoreline. Grand Valley State University photo.

Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center on the Lake Muskegon shoreline. Grand Valley State University photo.

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MUSKEGON — Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center has joined a statewide grant program to help growing, high-tech Michigan companies obtain accelerator services designed to leverage business development and job growth.

The Business Accelerator Fund, managed by the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center at Grand Valley, 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 2011 with $3.5 million in state funds and MAREC is one of 15 Michigan SmartZones eligible for the program.

“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,” said Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC. “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.”

Accelerator services through BAF focus on business milestones, such as positioning a company to attract private capital, developing a stronger business plan or marketing strategy and securing its 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.

Business Accelerator Fund eligibility

The program is for 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. Companies must be Michigan-based and have raised less than $1 million in private investments and have annual revenues less than $2.5 million.

Funds must be used for business development services; capital improvement, salary or production expenses do not qualify. Michigan SmartZone business accelerators such as MAREC will screen BAF applications, channel funds to service providers and monitor use of the funds on behalf of approved applicants.

About the Business Accelerator Fund

BAF was created through an agreement between the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and MI-SBTDC at Grand Valley, with funding coming from the state’s 21st Century Jobs fund within the Michigan Strategic Fund. Learn more here. (link = http://www.michiganadvantage.org/21st-Century-Jobs-Fund/).

The first round of BAF funding is available through Sept. 30. Contact Arn Boezaart at (616) 331-6901 or boezaara@gvsu.edu or Jim Edmonson at (231) 557-8543 or jbedmonson@aol.com with inquiries and questions. Visit www.gvsu.edu/marec for more information.

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