STERLING HEIGHTS — More than 140 business leaders and government officials gathered in Sterling Heights to celebrate the official opening of the Michigan Defense Center at Velocity, a center for collaborative economic development in Macomb County.

The Michigan Defense Center is an agency of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that connects defense industry buyers and prime contractors with Michigan-based companies. Relocating its headquarters from the state capitol of Lansing is a strategic decision to increase synergy with area businesses and resources.

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The Velocity Collaboration Center is located in a 38,922-square-foot building on a 12-acre site, donated to the Sterling Heights Local Development Financing Authority by Michael J. Damman of A.J. Damman Co. in 2009.

Analysis by the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development reveals that, over the past decade, Michigan businesses have been awarded more than $41 billion in Department of Defense contracts.  Of that, 63 percent landed in Macomb County. In fact, Macomb County businesses delivered on more than 10,000 DoD contracts between 2000 and 2010.

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“Macomb County is the heart of our defense industry so it makes sense that this is the new home of our state’s defense center,” said Michael A. Finney, MEDC president and CEO. “This is a sector that is ripe for economic gardening opportunities, and we will continue to work with our partners to grow Michigan businesses and new jobs.”

The defense center, created by a 2006 state law, aims to boost the defense industry in Michigan through advocacy and networking. Its purpose is to assist businesses in accessing research and development resources at universities and federal laboratories. It also works in conjunction with 12 regional Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to prepare Michigan businesses to be government contractors.

The MDC adds to the growing business acceleration services offered at Velocity. The center is home to Oakland University’s Macomb-OU INCubator as well as the OU Pawley Lean Institute and OU Center for Robotics and Unmanned Intelligent Systems (CRUIS). City and county economic development staff also maintain offices at the building.

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