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Southeast Michigan population, business investment on the rise

Southeast Michigan's economy is trending upward, as shown by the most recent population and business investment increases.


"Southeast Michigan's population grew in 2013, while investment in Oakland County small business tripled, according to statistics released by regional leaders Monday.

Banks approved $22,719,100 in traditional loans for established small businesses last year, according to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson's office. That's more than three times the amount loaned in 2012: $7,050,195.

And the Oakland County Business Center helped 19 startups gather $39,159,531 in capital in 2013, an increase of more than 286 percent from 2012 when 12 new businesses accessed $13,669,878 in capital formation."

More here.

Michigan more economically competitive, but there's room to improve

Heading into 2014, overall Michigan is gaining on other states, but a new study out by the Michigan Chamber Foundation says it still has a ways to go.


"Overall, the Northwood University Competitiveness Index ranked Michigan 39th this year, up from 47th in 2012.

Northwood University  conducted the study, which looked at more than 200 variables grouped into five categories: general macroeconomic environment, state debt and taxation, workforce compensation and cost, labor and capital formation and the regulatory environment."

More here.

Renaissance Venture Capital Fund thrives on Michigan investments

The Detroit-based Renaissance Venture Capital Fund is getting landmark returns through investing in Michigan companies.


"The  Renaissance Venture Capital Fund(RVCF) is a Michigan based venture capital fund.   The company has announced today that their initial investment of $16.7 million has led to a total of nearly $300 million in 20 new Michigan companies.   This means that they are seeing a ratio of $17 venture capital investment coming into Michigan for every dollar invested by the RVCF.   This led to the creation of hundreds of high-wage jobs that pay an average of $80,000 per year."

More here.

Rust Belt states are a good investment for high-tech innovation

In making their case that venture capitalists are taking an ever-greater interest in Rust Belt innovations, Detroit's TechTown gets held up as a promising feature of the conomic landscape.
"One of the plan's greatest benefits could be a chance for smaller cities or cities with negative reputations to showcase their accomplishments to the country's stakeholders, said Leslie Smith, president and CEO of startup incubator TechTown in Detroit.
Noting that the Michigan city is "light years ahead of where it was five years ago," she said Detroit has a goal of transforming its image similar to how Pittsburgh has on the national level."
Read more here.

Farmington equity firm director writes about cutting-edge tech investment

Jeff Bocan of Farmington's private equity firm Beringea talks about his time at the National Science Foundation's I-Corps, a program at U-M designed to fast-track research from the lab to the real world, and how the government can help foster greater entrepreneurship by funding cutting edge R&D
"I have just completed a tour of duty as a venture capital faculty member at the National Science Foundation's I-Corps (short for NSF's Innovation Corps - a program designed to fast-track research from the lab to the real world), delivered in partnership with the University of Michigan. I-Corps is like the scientific version of PBS' Antiques Roadshow -- NSF-funded technological gems that have largely been tucked away in the labs of America's research institutions are being dusted off, given a heavy dose of commercial polish and have been unearthed to unlock the potential to create a lot of value for the technologists, their universities and society in general."
Read the rest here.

Metro Detroiter says angel investors should get small business tax credits

Should angel investors get tax credits to invest in small businesses? Critics say they don't deliver for the price spent. David Weaver, founder and chairman of Great Lakes Angels in Bloomfield Hills says they do.


"But there are two ways that tax credits can increase the amount of funding available for start-up companies. They keep more money in the pockets of existing angel investors—money that can be plowed back into a company an investor has already funded, as it continues to grow, or that can help the investor support another company that might otherwise go unfunded. And credits can help create new angel investors—people who otherwise would put their money in financial instruments, real estate, art or some other more-proven asset if a tax credit didn't make investing in a start-up worth considering."

Read both sides of the argument here.

Birmingham brings big value to investors

It looks like Birmingham is becoming one of metro Detroit's hottest real estate markets for investors. Hmmm. Could it be the increasing density of its developing 24-hour downtown and walkable neighborhoods?


"Birmingham land has more value than anyplace else in metro Detroit," said Bob Pliska, managing director of the Sperry Van Ness office in Birmingham.

"There's a high value for small parcels of land because everything is built up, and it's in the center of everything. It's Birmingham."

Read the rest here.

TechTown's influences and accomplishments heralded

There's been whole lotta talk about innovation in Metro Detroit but what does it take to incubate that innovation on the ground? Wayne State's TechTown gets spotlighted for its efforts and impacts.


"To date, TechTown is an emerging economic force in downtown Detroit. It has introduced approximately 8,000 Michigan residents to “an entrepreneurial culture” through its public events and walk-in sessions. It has invested more than $700,000 directly into new ventures and has helped clients raise more than $14 million in venture capital.

Wayne State, which manages TechTown, located a few blocks from its midtown Detroit campus, has put some $2.7 million into TechTown between 2007 and 2011, providing about 23 percent of its programmatic funding. Its College of Engineering has provided prototype services and lab space to TechTown companies. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides translation services, while the Law School conducts small business clinics, and its School of Medicine has provided researchers and tissue samples. The university has partnered with TechTown to secure federal and state research grants."

Read the rest here

Michigan's angel tax incentive considered

State tax incentives for angel investors get a mixed response from economists and investors. But the need to stimulate successful entrepreneurship is strong. Michigan recently ended its program but supposedly has something new in the works. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the impact and how other states have fared with their incentives.


"When meeting with potential investors, the owners of the Rochester Hills, Mich., business touted the state's special tax break for angels—a term used to describe wealthy individuals who provide capital to start-ups. The Michigan incentive at the time allowed angels to seek tax credits of 25% on their 2011 investments in qualified start-ups."

Read the rest here.

University of Michigan ranks 14th in tech transfer revenue

Tech transfer has become big business for universities, adding millions to a school's bottom line. Michigan had only one school crack the Top 20. Looks like our other institutions might want to take a look at what the top ten are doing that they're not.


"2010 was a bit of a bounce-back year for U.S. technology transfer programs, as licensing income inched up 3 percent to $2.4 billion, compared with the prior year.

Still, that level of licensing income was a far cry from the halcyon days of 2008, when technology transfer programs reported $3.4 billion in licensing income, according to the latest annual survey from the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). 2010′s tally represented a 30-percent drop from 2008."

Read the rest here

Shuttered Big Three auto plants get second life in new economy

The Center for Automotive Research has found that nearly half of the shuttered assembly and parts plants in the country have been repurposed for new industries.  


"About half of all U.S. automotive plants that have closed since 1979 are being reused, and much of that activity has come during the recent hard times for the industry and real estate market, according to a report released Thursday.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based nonprofit Center for Automotive Research’s report found that of the 267 assembly and parts plants closed during that period, 128 have found or are finding new life. Forty percent of the sites surveyed were bought for a new use between 2008 and 2010, during which the companies now known as General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC went through restructuring and bankruptcy reorganization."

Read the rest of the story here.

In similar news, Crain's reports that studies are being prepared to analyze the process and impact of repurposing plants in Michigan. Read the story here.

Don't invest in Wall St, invest in Main St

Former BusinessWeek editor Amy Cortese spent a year uncovering the most innovative experiments in citizen finance around the world, and proposes a culture of "locavesting" --investing in businesses within 50 miles of where you live-- as a way of rebuilding sustainable communities in the U.S.


"Americans have about $26 trillion dollars in investments, and now it's probably closer to $30 trillion. Imagine if half of that, $15 trillion, was invested in local communities rather than multinational conglomerates that are outsourcing jobs and not investing domestically. I think we’d be living in a far different world. That said, it is a little idealistic to think we’ll ever get to 50% any time soon. But even think about 10% or 5% or 1%. One percent of $26 trillion is $260 billion going to the Main Street economy and that’s a lot."

Read the rest of this fascinating interview here.

Michigan is No. 7 in private equity funding

Five billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at. That's how much private equity firms invested in 35 Michigan companies last year -- most of which ended up in Metro Detroit. Nine companies in Oakland County landed nearly $3.3 billion alone. Currently, the state ranks No. 7 in private equity investment.


"Michigan's ranking, bested only by California, Illinois, New York, Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts, suggests that the Great Lakes State is pulling through the recession faster than most of the country, said David Brophy, director of the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

"We're way ahead of a lot of other states, which are now where we were a year ago," Brophy said. "It means there's enthusiasm for more companies starting in Michigan."

Read the rest of the story here.

GM invests in local solar start-up, commits $200M to VC

Not wanting to miss the innovation boat, GM emerges from bankruptcy to become an aggressive investor in venture capital.


With a solar charging station as a backdrop, GM's venture capital unit touts a $7.5 million investment in Sunlogics, at the solar energy system maker's new headquarters in a former auto parts plant in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

The investment, announced last month, gives GM Ventures a stake in a company building solar charging equipment. It comes out of a $200 million venture capital budget GM earmarked to spend over three years in response to fears that the world's largest automaker could lose out on the next big thing to start-ups such as electric car maker Tesla Motors

Read the rest of the story here.

Ford backs DIY incubator in Allen Park

Laser cutters, welding equipment, and homebrewers. Oh my! Ford and Silicon Valley's TechShop are partnering to create a space for area makers.


"Ford officials confirmed this week that the automaker has partnered with the Silicon-Valley based do-it-yourself enterprise to open a community workshop in Allen Park.

Techshop Detroit, which is slated to open in November, will provide creative minds with access to affordable tools, machinery and even "dream coaches" to help them turn their ideas into working prototypes."

Read more here and here.

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