In the Zone | Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

Courtney Overbey

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tony Willis, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, an economic development organization representing Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties, takes us “In the Zone” for a behind-the-scenes look at the SmartZone.

Comprised of more than 75 businesses from across the tri-county region, LEAP is a full-service one-stop economic development organization that provides support for entrepreneurship, traditional business development and business attraction efforts. With a commitment to inclusion and equity, LEAP supports and builds partnerships with a diverse range of start-ups by working with the Refugee Development Center, Lansing Community College, and other local partners.

LEAP launched the region's first startup accelerator, PROTO Accelerator, in 2019, which created a new vertical for Insurtech, whose first cohort attracted international companies from Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Unlike other SmartZones in Michigan, LEAP also is the Community Development Corporation for the entire region, which means boards, stakeholders, companies and municipal leaders alike choose LEAP’s conference rooms as their meeting destinations. 

In addition to the office spaces at LEAP, the organization offers workspaces in the Technology Innovation Center (TIC). TIC is the region’s oldest incubator and has helped more than 80 entrepreneurs develop their businesses since its inception 10 years ago.  

Receiving funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), SmartZones like LEAP assist tenants in fast-tracking their business concepts from ideation to commercialization by providing them the resources they need to grow. 

If you have a high-tech startup idea you’d like to explore further and don’t know where to start, contact the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative at 888-522-0103 or visit

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