The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved a $121,000 two-year Gatekeeper Grant to the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County.  The EDA will use the funds to hire a manager for The Underground Incubator and Business Service Center which is located in the basement of the Sperry’s Building at 301 Huron Ave. in Port Huron.

“Gatekeeper Grants play an important role in building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem across our state,” said Fred Molnar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MEDC. “The Gatekeepers that have been funded to date have been highly successful in connecting entrepreneurs with the resources available to them, and we’re looking forward to seeing similar results in Port Huron.”

The Gatekeeper Grant was created to fund business engagement services for the state designated SmartZones and their satellites.  Specifically, the funds are intended to support the hiring of a professional with entrepreneurial experience to assist startup companies and connect them to state capital programs such as the First Capital Fund and the Business Accelerator Fund.

“We’re grateful to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for its support and the Michigan Strategic Fund for the grant,” said Dan Casey, CEO of the EDA.  “These funds will provide the region with the expertise to connect early stage companies to the capital they need.”

The Port Huron SmartZone, a satellite of the Automation Alley SmartZone, was established in 2015 and focuses on technologies that support the Internet of Things related to logistics, transportation and smart cities.  There are 15 SmartZones in Michigan, all anchored by incubators or business accelerators.  The Underground is the new anchor of the Port Huron SmartZone.

Gatekeeper Grant funds and the hiring of a dedicated incubator manager are intended to assist The Underground in engaging entrepreneurs, resulting in more companies started, jobs created and increased investment and sales revenue in client companies.  These initiatives will help the region foster small business success and increase the momentum of early stage companies, development of competitive-edge technologies and commercialization of products and services.

The Underground, which just celebrated its grand opening, is being managed by the Economic Development Alliance in partnership with the City of Port Huron, Lawrence Technological University, and Automation Alley.  Other partners include Blue Water Community Action, Community Foundation of St. Clair County, International Transmission Co., several local banks and the cities of Southfield and Troy.

For more information on Underground programs, incubator space, meeting room rentals and upcoming events and business competitions, visit:  http://www.startunderground.com

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About EDA of St. Clair County 

The Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County is a private non-profit organization that provides general purpose economic development services throughout St. Clair County.  EDA offers a wide variety of services involving business recruitment and business retention and expansion with the overall goal of growing the local economy and enhancing the quality of life for residents in St. Clair County.  The EDA of St. Clair County is supported by a membership of over 150 businesses from the private & public sector passionate about supporting community and economic development.  To learn more about the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County visit:  www.edascc.com.