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As Nation's Economy Struggles, Michigan and Detroit Head Upward

Amazing turnaround: State No. 1 for Job Growth, SBA Lending

August 14, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Several Michigan business indicators have continued to rise even as the nation struggles economically.

The rating of Michigan's general obligations bonds has been hiked from "stable" to "positive." And, the state now is a national leader for job growth and places No. 1 in a new lending ranking of Small Business Administration loans.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported Michigan added 18,000 jobs in June, ranking the state behind only two mega states, Texas and California.

"The Positive Outlook reflects prudent budgeting and efforts to grow reserve levels in the context of an economy beginning to slowly rebound," says one rating agency. "The state has a demonstrated history of responding pro actively to maintain fiscal balance despite continual revenue declines. The currently enacted budget was balanced without the use of one-time measures and management projects a return to structural balance. Monies have also been budgeted to begin to replenish the state's rainy day fund."

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has reported that the SBA loaned more money to Michigan businesses than any other district in the nation.

The number of SBA loans has increased 42 percent so far this year, over the same period of 2010, and the dollar amount of those loans is up 60 percent. All told, SBA loans are on track to reach $1 billion for fiscal 2011 (through July, loans totaled $635.2 million).

The Detroit area ran ahead of all 28 other major metropolitan areas for job growth, showing a 34 percent increase in July hiring, according to the Employment Index.

More stimulus is coming. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has announced that the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) is awarding $25 million to eight organizations that will support entrepreneurs in launching and growing start-up companies throughout the state.

"Early-stage companies require seed capital and access to a strong network of public and private resources," said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. "We are confident that with the funding of these organizations and the types of programs -- from federal grant support to business plan completion to providing services and angel and pre-seed funding -- we will continue to accelerate the growth of innovative technology start-ups in Michigan."

The funding comes from the state's 21st Century Jobs fund, which is focused on the commercialization of competitive edge technologies in areas that include alternative energy, life sciences, homeland security and defense, advanced manufacturing and materials, agricultural processing, information technology, and other innovative sectors.

Organizations that received awards from the MSF include the following (funding is for two to three years):

  • Ann Arbor SPARK, $10.8 million: Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, a statewide co-investment program in collaboration with all Michigan SmartZones that makes investments in pre-seed stage companies; Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, an annual business competition that awards $1 million in cash prizes to start-up and emerging companies; and the Michigan Angel Fund, a new fund that will invest in Michigan start-up companies.

  • Biosciences Research & Commercialization Center (BRCC) of Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, $3.8 million: Statewide pre-seed fund that will invest in life science start-ups.

  • Biotechnology Business Consultants (BBC), Ann Arbor, $1.6 million: Statewide support for Michigan companies to secure funding through federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

  • Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), $400,000: Creative Producers, a program that will deliver targeted business acceleration services to early and second stage businesses in the digital and media production fields.

  • Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest (GLEQ), Lansing, $1.1 million: Statewide annual business plan competition that provides a network of volunteer coaching, investor talent, and entrepreneurial support programs for early stage companies.

  • Inforum Center for Leadership, Detroit and Grand Rapids, $700,000: Implementation of two programs focused on high-growth women entrepreneurs: ACTiVATE, a technology commercialization curriculum, and Astia, a global network of mentors and investors.. Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC), Grand Rapids, $3.5 million: Business Accelerator Fund, a fund that can be accessed by participating business accelerators statewide to provide specialized business acceleration services and resources regardless of their client's geography.

  • Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), Ann Arbor, $3.1 million: Entrepreneur-in-Residence and CEO placement programs, to improve talent in entrepreneurial companies; the Michigan Venture Fellows program, to develop talent for Michigan venture capital firms; and the Angel Network Growth program, to strengthen angel investment networks across the state.

    The 21st Century Jobs Fund, a 10-year initiative begun in 2005, is a Michigan Strategic Fund program that is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to accelerate the growth and diversification of Michigan's economy.

    The MEDC, a public-private partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. For more information on the MEDC's initiatives and programs, visit the website at ###

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    Dave Rogers

    Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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