21 November 2016
Q&A with Fred Molnar, VP of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

PBS Start Up

Q&A with Fred Molnar, VP of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 
Michigan Economic Development Corporation

What is the MEDC?

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s lead agency for business, talent and jobs, tourism and economic growth. We offer a number of business assistance services and capital programs for business attraction and acceleration, economic gardening, entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships, talent enhancement and urban development. The Entrepreneur & Innovation initiative within MEDC specifically focuses on making Michigan the place to launch and grow a high-tech business by providing startup companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. 

How would you summarize the business climate in Michigan in 2016?

The business climate in Michigan is showing a lot of promise. Entrepreneurial activity is on the rise, VC and angel investing is increasing, and jobs are being created at a rapid rate. Much of this progress is due to the initiatives MEDC has supported to diversify the state’s industries. Collaboration between industry, universities and startup support organizations continues to increase, making Michigan a supportive environment for businesses to grow.

How does the state rank in terms of being pro business?

According to the 2016 Michigan Entrepreneurship Score Card, a report released in February 2016 by Lansing, Mich.-based nonprofit MiQuest, the state continues to advance its post-recession entrepreneurial economy. The Entrepreneurial Change Index, which measures the direction and momentum of growth, ranked Michigan #12 out of the 50 states.

Additionally, according to the Michigan Venture Capital Association’s 2016 Annual Report, the number of venture capital firms in Michigan has grown by 257% in the last 15 years, while nationally that number has decreased by 14%. 

What are MEDC SmartZones?

MEDC has several designated SmartZones across the state, which are essentially geographic areas where tech firms, entrepreneurs and startups can find resources to support their endeavors, such as funding programs, business incubators and accelerators, university collaborations, research opportunities and the like. These technology clusters were created to spur economic growth and attract high-tech businesses and top talent. 

What is Pure Michigan Business Connect?

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) is a multi-billion dollar public/private initiative developed by the MEDC that connects buyers to suppliers of Michigan goods and services. Companies can use this network to expand their supply chain and access pro bono and discounted services, such as legal, accounting, Web development, logistics and human resource assistance. PMBC also offers the Economic Gardening® program, which provides critical resources to launch companies into the next stage of growth at no additional cost to those who qualify.

What Capital resources and incentives are available through the MEDC?

The MEDC works to increase the availability of capital for companies in Michigan at every stage of development. We can help connect businesses with capital providers – federal grants, first capital and pre-seed funds, angel funds, venture capitalists, banks, etc. – as well as offer programs that can expand the reach of those capital providers.

How can the MEDC help a business grow?

No matter the challenge, Michigan businesses can come to MEDC for everything from funding and talent to incentives and confidential assistance. We work every day to connect businesses with the resources they need to be successful. 

What is the mission and vision of the MEDC?

The MEDC markets Michigan and provides the tools and environment to drive job creation and investment. Our vision is to diversify and transform the Michigan economy by growing and attracting business, keeping talent here, and revitalizing our urban centers. We will make Michigan a Top 10 State For:

- Low unemployment
- Per capita income
- GDP growth
- Young adult population growth

How can a small business benefit from the MEDC?

We partner with the Michigan Small Business Development Center to provide counseling, training, research and advocacy for small businesses. The SBDC can help businesses launch, guide the development of a business plan, chart strategies, provide counsel on management, hiring, marketing and more. 

Why should a business consider Michigan for re-location?

Aside from the obvious reasons such as a reasonable cost of living and beautiful Great Lakes scenery, the culture in Michigan is conducive for growth. The business environment is extremely supportive and there’s a “rising tides lift all boats” approach to economic growth, which is fueled by partnerships and collaboration across industries, companies and organizations. In addition, organizations like MEDC and our partners make the transition easy by connecting businesses with the resources they need to grow and be successful here. 

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