$20,000 Entrepreneurial Fund for 2018 Accepting Applications

St. Clair County, Michigan - Economic Development Alliance in collaboration with the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and The Underground Incubator and Business Service Center has established a $20,000 entrepreneurial pre-seed fund, the Emerge Fund for 2018.    

The fund will grant entrepreneurial start up financing for those establishing a business in St. Clair County.  The Emerge Fund will provide early capital that entrepreneurs can use for creating a business plan, developing a website, filing a patent or other needs that can help launch and grow new businesses.  Companies located in St. Clair County are eligible for funding.

Emerge fund recipients are required to participate in The Underground incubation program for a minimum of twelve months, develop a work plan and entrepreneurial milestones.  Each emerge recipient will be assigned a business mentor or industry expert that will help accelerate their growth.  Funds will be granted in a maximum amount of $5,000 per applicant.  A portion ($5,000) of the total fund is being reserved for smaller requests (not to exceed $2,500) to help expand assistance to additional entrepreneurs.

Application guidelines:

  •  $5,000 Maximum Funding Request Per Applicant

  • Must be a for-profit entrepreneurial business venture in St. Clair County.
    Technology businesses highly desired (app development, E-commerce, SMART Technology, Automated Intelligence (AI) or automation systems, tech enabled censors or equipment and/or any business venture that relies heavily on technology and/or internet for sales.  

  • Traditional brick & mortar storefronts are ineligible, but some exceptions may apply for unique uses determined to have a potentially very strong impact on a downtown community. 

  • Funding decision occurs within 30 days of application   

“Participation in The Underground’s business incubation program as well as financial support from the Emerge Fund has proven to be effective at helping people launch their businesses.  One of our companies, Cogent Hex, was just recognized as one of Michigan’s Best Small Businesses.  Another, Gro-Hoop, was just featured on Channel 4 (Live in the D) and Channel 2 for their revolutionary gardening product,” said Quentin Bishop, Director of Entrepreneurial Services at The Underground.

Contact Information: 

Quentin Bishop, Director of Entrepreneurial Services, The Underground
Director of Business Attraction, EDA of St. Clair County 
Mobile : (810) 294-3051
Office:  (810) 982-9511

To apply for Emerge Funding or learn more about The Underground’s business incubation programs, co-working and private offices for lease, visit www.startunderground.com .  The Underground is an equal opportunity institution.   


Read the full story >>

New fund supports Robotics

Port Huron, MI - Robotics inspires young minds to dream, design and build while developing skills that translate into future career opportunities. And now, Community Foundation donors and local companies can support local robotics through the newly established Blue Water Robotics Fund.

Started by the Economic Development Alliance of St Clair County, this fund will support the teams of Blue Water Area Robotics Alliance and the programs, projects and services of FIRST Robotics.

“First Robotics provides opportunities for our students to utilize the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom and apply it to real world challenges,” said Dan Casey, CEO of Economic Development Alliance. “It is a real life laboratory where students have to be innovative, skilled and function as a team – all great attributes that they can take with them as they start their careers.”

The worldwide FIRST Robotics Competition kicks off each January when teams receive their challenge, which involves building a robot that can play a short game within specified parameters. This begins the six-week build period with tons of hands-on learning that continues through the completion of the competition in late March.

Throughout the competition, students are immersing themselves in a STEAM curriculum, which inspires these young minds to dream, design and build while developing skills that translate into career opportunities.

Students not only learn teambuilding, but they get experience with engineering, computer-aided design (CAD), program solving, graphic design, transportation logistics and putting together a business plan.

Students also get to interact with the qualified volunteers, such as electricians, engineers,computer programmers and nurses, needed to run a FIRST Robotics event and who mentor them along the way.

“The establishment of this fund is fantastic news. Funding for high school robotics teams relies heavily on the generosity of local businesses and the community. Having access to a safety net for an unexpected loss of a sponsor or a source for funding upgrades to equipment will go a long way toward strengthening BWARA robotics teams and inspiring the students,” said John Antilla, Mentor for Capac’s robotics team Metal & Soul.

“Our Board is proud to work with the Community Foundation to bring this opportunity to the public to help support our local robotics teams and the future of robotics locally,” said Casey.  One day the Economic Development Alliance hopes to expand its fund to include opportunities for younger students by utilizing the FIRST Robotics Lego Leagues and possibly even Ozobots and Littlebits through collaborating with local libraries or other institutions.

“We are excited to bring more awareness to the incredible opportunity robotics bring to our students locally. This is a great option for donors interested in supporting young minds, STEAM and hands-on learning to be linked with local robotics efforts,” said Jackie Hanton, vice president of the Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County is the largest and oldest grantmaking foundation in Michigan’s Thumb Region and has a heavy emphasis on regional growth and prosperity. The Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County is a regional non-profit economic development agency that has served the Blue Water Area for over 60 years. The EDA is supported by public and private sector investors and works closely with community stakeholders and regional partners to stimulate the economy, and drive job growth and investment.

Support This Fund


Read the full story >>

Cogent Hex, One of 2018 Michigan's "Best Small Business Honorees"

Port Huron - Cogent Hex, an incubator client at The Underground Business Incubator and Service Center, receiving Honor as One of the 2018 “Best Small Business Honorees.”

Cogent Hex will be honored at an awards ceremony during the fourteenth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala event, May 3, 2018 in Lansing, Mich.

Cogent Hex Inc. is a Full Turn-Key Automation Company, helping companies develop and implement automated solutions to maximize efficiency and profitability.

“Cogent Hex is proud to have been nominated by the EDA of St. Clair County and accepted as an honoree as a “Best Small Business”. We look forward to a continuous partnership with the EDA in our efforts for ongoing development of a strong business model to foster new and exciting opportunities for our local workforce,” said Partner, Scott McQueen. 

Read the full story >>

Collaborative Approach to Economic Development

Crain's Detroit Business, February 12 edition has a FOCUS on St. Clair County, Michigan, --- How it's Good To Be Blue... and shares the story of the collaborative approach our region is taking toward economic development that is paying off.  

View the many articles on Crain's St. Clair County FOCUS here

Read the full story >>

2017 brought over 700 Jobs and $127 Million in Investment

The Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County hosted its Semi-Annual luncheon yesterday, February 12, at the Blue Water Area Convention Center.  The organization shared key measures from 2017, including that the region benefited from 728 new jobs and $127 million in private investment.

"The economic development growth and tremendous momentum we are seeing in our region is the direct result of the efforts of many.  As shared in this week’s edition of Crain’s Detroit Business (February 12-18), the region has taken a collaborative approach to economic development and we’re seeing many positive results of working together,” said Dan Casey, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance (EDA).

St. Clair County is booming again. New commercial investments in our downtowns and communities have taken off, totaling $70 million and are expected to continue to grow this year.  Healthy local companies expanded facilities and added workforce, resulting in 20 expansion projects totaling $40.3 million.  The region also attracted $17 million in new business investment in 2017 and added 256 single family homes and apartment units.  

Read the full story >>

EDA's President named Crain's Notable Woman in Manufacturing

Congratulations to EDA President and President and CEO of PTM Corporation, Donna Russell-Kuhr for being recognized by Crain's Detroit Business as one of their chosen Notable Women in Manufacturing.  The EDA team and Board of Directors celebrate this award with Donna, who has been serving PTM for 35 years and is a valuable asset to the community and our organization.   

PTM Corporation is a metal stamping supplier in St. Clair County.  Donna co-owns PTM with her three sisters.  PTM employs approximately 300 employees at its continuously growing manufacturing campus.  

Read the full story >>


ansing, Michigan – January 3, 2018 – Dan Casey, Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County, has been elected to serve a 3-year term on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA).


MEDA is a professional society with members throughout the state that attract and grow business, create and retain jobs, and make our communities a better place to live. Dan has been an active member of MEDA since 1999, serving nine years on its Advocacy Committee and seven years on its Education Committee.

Mr. Casey has served the public sector for 25 years and transitioned to the economic development profession in 1998. During his economic development career, Dan has assisted dozens of companies to establish, expand or relocate to Michigan and worked on many significant community development projects, totaling more than $2-billion in investment and creating 10,000 new jobs.

Read the full story >>

$217,038 Awarded to Six St. Clair County Companies for Skilled Trades Training

Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) grants were announced today by the Michigan Workforce Development Agency and we are pleased to share that grant funds have been awarded to six companies in St. Clair County, totaling $217,038.     

Grants awarded to employers through the Talent Investment Agency (TIA) are used to assist in training, developing and retaining current employees and individuals to be hired.  Training is short-term and customized to meet employee skills requirements for hiring needs and to help close skills gaps for existing employees. 

Read the full story >>

Equipment Distributors Investing Nearly $2 Million in Industrial Build in Ira Township

Equipment Distributors, a supplier of automotive tools and equipment for the auto repair industry is expanding from Shelby Township to 10099 Radiance Drive in Ira Township of St. Clair County.  The company is investing nearly $2 million in a two-phase new construction build, beginning with 14,000 square-feet during Phase I; and adding an additional 14,000 square-feet in Phase II.  The facility will employ approximately 20 employees.     

Equipment Distributors which specializes in wheel alignment and automotive lifts, offers full auto lift support including ALI safety inspections, maintenance, repair and service parts for their flagship line of two post lifts, four post lifts, inground lifts, mobile column lifts, short & mid-rise lifts and pit lifts.  These lifts are commonly recognized in automotive garages and shops and used to raise vehicles and keep them suspended for maintenance, repairs, wheel alignments and tire changes.   

Read the full story >>

PTM Corporation of St. Clair County named Michigan Women’s Business of The Year

PTM Corporation, located in Ira Township (St. Clair County) has been named as Michigan’s Women Business Enterprise (WBE) of The Year by the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.  Awardees are selected from a pool of more than 900 certified woman-owned, woman-managed businesses statewide.    

A women-owned business is defined as being at least 51% owned, capitalized, operated and controlled by a woman or group of woman.  The business must be a “for-profit” business which typically resides in the United States or one of its territories. 

Donna Russell-Kuhr, Nika Russell-Hess, Dannielle Russell and Gina Russell all deserve this achievement as business leaders and community minded individuals here in Ira Township, their corporation has been tremendous to work with over the years,” said James J.Endres, Jr, supervisor of Ira Township.  “ The entire Ira Township board of Trustee’s congratulates them and PTM on winning WBE of the year.”

Read the full story >>