new $100 million s.e. michigan grant source announced

From the Great Lakes IT Report:

…(This is) part of a major regional initiative to foster economic growth, the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan Tuesday began accepting grant applications from nonprofit organizations for projects that will help accelerate the transition of Metro Detroit to an innovation-based economy.

The New Economy Initiative, a joint program of 10 national, regional and local foundations, has committed $100 million to an eight-year effort designed to help southeast Michigan attain a position of leadership in the new global economy.

Grants awarded through the initiative will support the efforts of nonprofit organizations and public agencies to increase prosperity in the region by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in new and existing industries and by preparing the region’s workforce to succeed in an information-based economy…

The New Economy Initiative will award grants up to $1 million, with the occasional exception for outstanding applications. Here are some of the details from the new organization’s site:

…The initiative will sponsor and support activities in three strategic areas: talent, innovation and culture change. Working with other partners in the region and in the state, the initiative will work to:

1. Prepare, attract and retain skilled workers in southeast Michigan (Talent)

2. Encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in new and existing enterprises in the region (Innovation)

3. Change the region’s culture to embrace learning, work and innovation (Culture Change)…

Clearly the Spark East Business Incubator on South Washington Street will be tapping into this funding source, but one wonders what other organizations might be able to draw from it as well. In our talk of a Zingerman’s outlet in Ypsi, wasn’t there some discussion of an associated job training program for at-risk Washtenaw County residents? Assuming that’s established as a not-for-profit, I’m thinking that it might be a good fit as well. It may not be high-tech, but it would certainly be leveraging a successful local enterprise to create jobs that wouldn’t otherwise exist. And how about Growing Hope and their programs to train and bring new community vendors to our local farmers’ markets? Seems as though there’s lots of potential there as well. And then there’s B-Side, the local youth entrepreneurship program. I’m sure they could benefit from the additional resources such a grant might bring… Assuming some of these $100 million dollars make their way to Ypsi, this might be just the thing we needed to complete our turn-around… Other ideas?

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  1. Katy
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    My initial response is that I’d love to see some of this money funneled into expanding public transportation in some way. It would certainly fit into categories 1 and 3 – public transportation can be a selling point of the area (if expanded), and would certainly be a bit of a culture change.

  2. Posted January 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Katy that public transportation would be key to attracting businesses and workers. I really think the commuter rail project between Detroit and Lansing would make a huge difference in Michigan. I know one of the reasons I bought my business in Depot Town was because I heard they were getting close to starting to trials of the commuter rail. I haven’t heard much new since, but I keep hoping.

    Another idea I was thinking of would be to have a State funded healthcare system. My thought is that even if we were to be lucky enough to get Edwards as president, I don’t think he could fight the corruption in Washington and get a decent healthcare system in place. But if a state were to pave the way and show that it could be successfully be done. That might help us get a national system. Since we are right next to Canada, we could probably get some help from them. We could at the very least buy our drugs from them since they are allowed to negotiate price. Washtenaw county already has a county sponsored health plan for low income, maybe we could expand on that?

    If I were thinking about starting a high tech company and had the option of a state where there was a light rail system and state run healthcare, that would definitely appeal to me. It would also show that the state is progressive enough to support innovative ideas.

  3. mark
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that it would be hard to get them to consider public transportation under the terms of the grant, but I like the idea. It’s worth a shot.

  4. mark
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    More on Michigan’s New Economy Initiative can be found here.

  5. Posted January 16, 2008 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Jim, there is a ballot initiative that just started to require the State Legislature to find a way to provide health care for all MI residents. It just kicked off in the last few days – I was out gathering signatures today from voters outside a school. It reads:

    “The State Legislature shall pass laws to make sure that every Michigan resident has affordable and comprehensive health care coverage through a fair and cost effective financing system. The legislature is required to pass a plan that, through public or private measures, controls health care costs and provides for medically necessary preventive, primary, acute and chronic health care needs.”


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