The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) hosted the first SmartZone Conference May 1-2 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.More than 100 SmartZone representatives attended the conference including local government officials, business leaders, educators and members of the health care field.
“This conference was designed to bring key groups involved in Michigan’s SmartZones together in a spirit of cooperation and open dialogue,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “The long-term success of our SmartZones depends on collaboration and the sharing of experience and knowledge.”
Many distinguished speakers were on the agenda for the conference including Keynote, Dr. Donald F. Smith of the Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.Dr. Smith is currently the vice president of Economic Development at the Mellon Pitt Carnegie (MPC) Corporation.He also serves as Director of University Economic Development at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.Dr. Smith’s keynote address focused on the importance of building lasting partnerships to ensure successful SmartZones.
Additional speakers included Russ Lea of the University of North Carolina, Monica Doss of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, Scott Daugherty of the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center and Shari Garmise of the International Economic Development Council.
The additional speakers presented a wide range of relevant topics including, forming and maintaining technology business clusters, building partnerships, the role of entrepreneurship and the role of SmartZones in advancing technological development.
“Bringing all of the players together at a conference such as this offers a platform where lessons are learned and can be applied in all Michigan’s SmartZones,” said Scott Daugherty, executive director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Raleigh North Carolina. “You’re going to get some winners out of this.”
Sue Lackey, president of the Washtenaw Development Council and an attendee of the SmartZone Conference echoed Mr. Daugherty, “ The SmartZone Conference was a great opportunity for all of us to develop some common goals and an important indication of how exciting things can happen all over Michigan.”
Governor Engler signed the SmartZone legislation in 2000.SmartZones are intended to stimulate the growth of technology based businesses and jobs by aiding in the creation of recognized clusters of new and emerging businesses, those primarily focused on commercializing ideas, patents and other opportunities surrounding university or private research institute and R&D efforts.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a 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.
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