LANSING, MI – With the aim of attracting talent from a range of creative fields and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, a host of Michigan-based companies and universities will join Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) at “South By Southwest” (SXSW).
The trade show will be held March 7-16 in Austin, Texas. More than 24,500 registered attendees from around the world will gather at the Austin Convention Center for displays, conferences and presentations of the latest innovations in film, music and interactive media. MEDC will be among exhibitors, spotlighting economic development programs in entrepreneurship, attracting/retaining talent along with gaming and film opportunities.
“This is a timely and dynamic opportunity to meet and talk face-to-face with entrepreneurs and talented, creative people from around the world and persuade them to locate to Michigan to work and start a business,” said Michael Finney, president of MEDC, the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, including fostering tourism, film production, and digital-media projects and overall economic growth. At SXSW, MEDC joins other economic development agencies from around the country, including groups from Texas, Virginia, (Chicago) Illinois, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma.
The appeal to younger entrepreneurs and media-related careerists, said Finney, will focus on pointing out employment opportunities and lifestyles in Michigan communities with close proximity to work and home, convenient access to shopping and a thriving social and entertainment scene. “Our goal at ‘South by Southwest’ is to elevate Michigan in the minds of the preeminent players redefining the business prospects derived from the confluence of media, technology, creators and consumer trends,” said Finney. “And, of course, the ‘Pure Michigan’ brand creates a positive impression about quality of life in our state.”
Others contributing to the “Michigan presence” at SXSW include: Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Ferris State University, Wayne State University, University Research Corridor, The Right Place of Grand Rapids, Automation Alley of Oakland County, and Detroit-based Shinola, a maker of watches, bicycles and other products infused with Detroit pride. A range of Michigan-based businesses from advertising, marketing, talent recruitment, film and creative industries are also scheduled to attend.
Last year, several MSU students won SXSW’s interactive “Student Startup Madness” tournament. The winning entry was a mobile app that filters music on a smartphone and translates it into a range of tempos as a way to enhance workouts.
In addition to filmmakers attracted to the state by Michigan Film Office incentives, animators, video game developers and digital media firms are locating to Michigan, making video gaming one of the state’s fastest-growing high-tech industries. Spending on video games is huge industry. Sales in the U.S. reached $14.8 billion in 2012, according to NPD Group’s annual report, “Games Market Dynamics.”
If and when they come to Michigan, Arts-and-media entrepreneurs will find an increase in venture capital activity in the state, said Finney. In 2011, the state rose from 25th to 15th for most venture capital developments, according to the Michigan Venture Capital Association. At SXSW, Finney said MEDC will promote entrepreneur services along with business and capital assistance, and community development programs.
While the primary economic development focus is to further expand Michigan’s manufacturing and automotive industries, SXSW provides an opportunity for MEDC to broaden the state’s employment market.
“Michigan is a creative place to invest, work and play,” said Finney. “It’s an exciting theme we present to a broad audience, and a compelling message we present to one person at a time.” It’s a message getting through around the country, and helping to cultivate a positive perception of the state. For evidence: In 2012, the Pure Michigan campaign earned the state $1.1 billion in visitor spending while attracting 3.8 million out-of-state visitors. “People around the country know about Michigan,” said Finney. “We’re setting our sights on exceeding their expectations.”