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U.S. Dept of Commerce backs Statewide Entrepreneurial Support System project

This is Detroit. We make things here. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke blew through the metro area Wednesday to help drive home that point, explaining that this means everything from traditional exports to job creating start-ups.

The U.S. Dept. of Commerce will open a CommerceConnect office in Pontiac, which will serve as a clearing house for businesses looking for resources to grow. Federal officials will work with state and local stakeholders to organize, coordinate, and facilitate these resources for local businesses.

"What CommerceConnect is all about is providing a one-stop shop for small business owners," Locke told a gathering of business owners at Automation Alley. Representatives from that office will not only work to direct businesses toward those resources, such as where to find seed capital or customers, but also serve as an advocate for those businesses. "I am confident we are moving in the right direction, but there will be a learning curve," Locke said.

Locke also announced that the U.S. Dept of Commerce will partner with the Michigan-based non-profit The MORE Program to develop the Statewide Entrepreneurial Support System. That initiative, headed up by downtown Detroit-based Digerati, will catalog and make available resources of all shapes, sizes, and sources that could help entrepreneurs. Think everything from Ann Arbor SPARK programs to local grassroots business meet ups, such as the Soup meetings in southwest Detroit. The idea is to create a system that connects entrepreneurs to what they need with minimum hassle.

Locke also drove home the point that the Obama Administration plans to capitalize on its goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years and Michigan, which is the fifth largest state when it comes to export-related jobs, will play a key part in making that happen. For Metro Detroit, that could mean everything from alternative energy manufacturing to building lithium ion batteries for the next generation of electric automobiles. A conference room full of local manufacturers at Automation Alley applauded the goal.

"You can sense the hum and activity of all of the work that is done here at Automation Alley," Locke said.

Source: Gary Locke, secretary of the U.S. Dept of Commerce
Writer: Jon Zemke
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