MUSKEGON — A company that provides U.S.-based virtual assistant services is the newest tenant at Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. signed a 2-year agreement with Grand Valley to occupy business incubator space at MAREC. Based in Muskegon, the 2-year-old company provides outsourcing services such as Web design, copy writing and administrative support to more than 80 clients worldwide, including companies in Montreal, South Africa, Alaska, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica.

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Owner Chad Lawie, a 27-year-old Muskegon native, said he wants to change the perception of outsourcing work.

“Instead of companies outsourcing to India or countries other than the U.S., they’re outsourcing to Muskegon and supporting full-time jobs,” he said. began in 2010 and now has 12 full-time employees who will move into MAREC July 1. The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center and MAREC staff members helped Lawie develop finance and business plans for the company.

“It was apparent to us early this year that our pace of growth would require us to move to a larger office, so we began to look for a new location,” Lawie said. “Our company is young, and we’re growing fast, making it difficult to know what kind of space we’re going to need five years down the road. MAREC’s incubator program is the perfect solution because it give us time to stabilize and the business consulting services will help us build a stable foundation much faster than we could have on our own.”

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Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC, said is a great example of business development in Muskegon.

“We’re glad to be supporting the next generation of technology startups in Muskegon and happy to help the company get moving in the right direction,” he said. “They fit with MAREC’s broader mission as part of the Muskegon SmartZone to support local tech startups as well as energy businesses.” joins existing incubator business tenants at MAREC, which include Logical Lighting Systems, Energy Partners, McKenzie Bay International and Michigan PACE. Learn more about the business incubator program here.

The Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon is an economic development initiative of the City of Muskegon in partnership with Grand Valley State University and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. As one of Michigan’s 15 SmartZones, MAREC’s mission is to be an economic development catalyst and business accelerator, as well as a center for high-technology business development, with particular focus on alternative and renewable energy.

MAREC offers a range of business start-up and incubation opportunities for technology companies, in partnership with the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center. Its work also includes education and outreach programs for audiences like energy professionals, educators and citizen groups. MAREC uses a combination of renewable and clean energy technologies to heat, cool, light, and power its facility.

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For more information, contact Arn Boezaart at (616) 331-6900 or