Houghton’s MTEC SmartZone Easily Tops Job Creation Goal For Year In Seven Months

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An aerial view of the Michigan Technological University campus in Houghton. (Michigan Tech photo.)

An aerial view of the Michigan Technological University campus in Houghton. (Michigan Tech photo.)

HOUGHTON — When the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance met last January, it announced a new strategic plan with the goal of creating 750 jobs over 10 years.

Officials figured it would take a while to get off the ground, the plan’s initial goals were modest — six jobs created by December.

But Thursday, the MTEC Smart Zone announced that the plan had already created 32 jobs in the Houghton area in the far northwest Upper Peninsula.

“The vision to create 750 jobs in 10 years is the result of intensive strategic planning,” said SmartZone CEO Marilyn Clark. “Last year, a planning committee met over the course of five months to develop smart strategies for MTEC SmartZone’s future. We developed smart strategies for our three focus areas; start-ups, expansion and the attraction of Fortune 500 companies. Our results so far this year confirm we are headed in the right direction.”

The biggest contributor to job growth numbers this year was an international logistics company opening an office in Houghton, which immediately created 12 jobs. In May, logistics equipment manufacturer Dematic opened its new satellite engineering office inside the Lakeshore Center. The company will use Michigan Technological University student engineering talent to support engineers in their Grand Rapids office.

It isn’t just large corporations creating jobs in Houghton this year. Talon, an MTEC SmartZone company, recently introduced a new infrared technology that helps construction companies and municipalities detect highway bridge decay. Last year was a great success for Talon — they sold into the marketplace quickly. As a result, Talon’s president added six employees to their team to support the infrared software.

The remaining 14 jobs created were spread throughout other technology start-up companies. In addition, MTEC SmartZone itself added a few support staff positions to support their growth.

Thirty-two jobs, or even 750, might not seem all that significant, but in a geographically isolated city of 7,700 and a county of 36,000, any new job or new company is a big deal.

MTEC SmartZone will soon announce a new Web site which will feature a “Job Ticker,” so the public can track new technology jobs created in the Keweenaw.

For more information on MTEC SmartZone, call (906) 487-7000.

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