BAY CITY, MI -- A new business incubator located in the Uptown Bay City development is officially open, offering budding entrepreneurs a creative space to launch and grow their venture.
Stakeholders and the media received a sneak peek of the Central Michigan University Research Corporation (CMURC) space Tuesday, Feb. 28. Located on the second floor of the multi-use Uptown Place building at the new development, the space features modern furniture, a semi-open space concept and a community kitchen and gathering area where entrepreneurs can brainstorm their next big ideas.
While the 4,850-square-foot space features hip decor and impressive views of the Saginaw River, its real magic is in what it aims to foster: a more vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in Bay City and across the Great Lakes Bay Region.
CMURC, which is headquartered in Mount Pleasant, is geared toward entrepreneurs who might be working out of their home, but need a dedicated location to work in. Those who sign leases with the incubator get access to cubicles, office space, internet, telecommunications technology and a conference room.
Those who sign up also have access to a team of service providers, from web and graphic designers to computer programmers.
One of the first service providers to sign on with the incubator is Bay City-based OHNO Design, a marketing agency located in an East Side Bay City home. The firm's team of seven people will work out of an office at CMURC each Thursday.
"It's a really exciting opportunity for us to be part of this from the beginning," said Michael Robb, co-founder of the agency.
Alan LaFave, artistic engineer for OHNO, said there are two benefits to the firm signing a lease with the incubator.
"One, we want to embrace and support Bay City's entrepreneurial spirit," he said. "But two, when the next big business comes here, we're going to have that opportunity to help them out and make them successful."
Other service providers that have been initially signed to the incubator include COOKE Productions, a multi-media video company and McKenna and Son Communications.
Paystr, a Bay City-based e-commerce software maker, is the incubator's first anchor tenant.
Securing a business incubator in the community is part of Bay Future's strategic action plan. The county's public-private economic development agency reached out to CMURC about two years ago about bringing a hub to Bay City.
"When you can have an atmosphere that nurtures entrepreneurs -- developing that one-stop shop support system -- you're making Bay County a more competitive place," said Trevor Keyes, interim chief executive officer of Bay Future.
The incubator aims to create a start up atmosphere. A chalkboard in the kitchen of the hub shows some of the perks of the space. Every Monday is a potluck lunch. Tuesday afternoons feature dedicated brainstorming meetings. Wednesdays is all about health and wellness. And Thursday is a beer-themed happy hour where entrepreneurs can bring in different craft brews to trade.