The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) recently hosted the second annual SmartZone Conference on April 2 – 3 at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo.More than 80 people from Michigan SmartZone communities, universities and private industry attended.
“Collaboration is at the heart of the success of Michigan’s SmartZones,” said Sabrina Keeley, acting CEO of the MEDC.“Bringing all the key players together for this conference opens the door to the sharing of knowledge and experience encouraging valuable partnerships between the public and private sectors.”
The theme for this year’s conference was “Building Smart Communities: Attraction, Retention and Development of Knowledge Workers and Technology Companies.”
Keynote Speaker Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council, focused his address on the attraction, retention and development of high-tech workers and companies using his successful experiences in Kansas City as a basis for his comments.
Breakout session speakers included Shirl Boyce, vice president of the Boise Economic Development Corporation in Idaho; Bob Filka, COO of the Michigan Broadband Development Authority; and Michigan SmartZone tenants David Sanford, president of Richard Allan Scientific; Charles Burke, CEO of Dendritic Nanotechnologies; and Jack Frick, chief financial officer of the Van Andel Institute.
“The conference is a valuable tool for those of us involved in growing the SmartZones,” said Susan Lackey, president, Washtenaw Development Council.“Not only do we get the opportunity to compare notes with our Michigan colleagues, but we also get insight on how successful industry clustering is being achieved in other regions of the country.”
Michigan’s 11 SmartZones are designated to stimulate the growth of technology-based companies and jobs by aiding in the creation of recognized clusters of new and emerging businesses.Since the inception of the SmartZones in April of 2001, 30 companies have located within the zones and six new business incubator facilities are either under construction or operational.
To date, the SmartZones have spurred more than $125 million in private investment.A complete listing of the 11 SmartZones is available on the MEDC Web site at www.michigan.org.
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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