Though the Midland Business Alliance's (MBA) plans to close its physical space dedicated to supporting local entrepreneurs soon, the organization has teamed up with the Central Michigan University Research Corp. (CMURC) to continue to foster innovation in the area.
In a recent Midland Daily News' "Community Connection" op-ed, MBA innovation and small business director Melissa Farley announced the MBA's plans to close the physical location for its Innovation Center within the Herbert D. Doan Midland County History Center at the end of December.
"This doesn't mean our focus in this area will be diminished in any way -- the MBA will still have a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship moving forward," Farley said. "Not having a physical space will allow the MBA to put our efforts into more programming and support services that will serve this part of the business community better than ever."
The center's main function is to provide prospective entrepreneurs with a space to learn about funding options and network with other professionals within their industries.
The MBA plans to continue supporting entrepreneurial innovation in Midland through its partnerships with local universities, Midland Young Professionals (MYPros) crowdfunding, programming geared toward small businesses and by hosting events such as WakeUp! Midland in the spring and "Bootstrappers Breakfasts," Farley said.
Tentatively scheduled to open in March 2020, CMURC will be "co-locating" at 801 Joe Mann Blvd., with the GENE-5 investment group. With GENE-5 co-founder David Dittenber graduating from the CMURC's "accelerator program" while in Bay City, it was his urging that led to CMURC looking toward Midland as its next location.
Erin Strang, CMURC president and CEO, said she has tried to streamline the opening of the Midland location to ensure "little transition" for people currently utilizing the MBA Innovation Center.
"We have been able to work hand-in-hand as (the MBA) has been communicating with their members that they're closing down, and they've been working with us to ensure that the entrepreneurs and those people (using the Innovation Center) aren't displaced, and that they have a positive experience around the entrepreneurial opportunities (in Midland)," Strang said.
CMURC is one of 21 "SmartZone" locations throughout Michigan. Since being established by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 1999, CMURC has worked with both Central Michigan University and the Mount Pleasant community to establish itself as a SmartZone, or a place where experts within higher education and local businesses can collaborate on ways to encourage economic growth and communal welfare. In addition to its central campus in Mount Pleasant, the CMURC also has established locations in Saginaw and Bay City.
"We are pleased to hear of CMURC's plans to open a location in Midland," said Tony Stamas, MBA president and CEO, in a press release. "CMURC brings a wealth of knowledge and resources to Midland and will add valuable tools for entrepreneurship and innovation in our community. The MBA looks forward to working with CMURC and our other university and educational partners to grow Midland's entrepreneurial community."