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TechTown expands as its start-ups mature, gain recognition

TechTown's story for its first years has been of a business accelerator getting its feet underneath it and shoulders strong enough to support some promising entrepreneurs. Its story for 2010 is how it and its start-ups have gained traction while this year's meme promises to be about it coming of age in a way.

Five TechTown start-ups (Angott Medical Products, ApoLife, Clean Emission Fluids, Danotek Motion Technologies and MitoStem) were recognized at the recent DiSciTech science and technology awards hosted by Corp! Magazine. Asterand, TechTown's anchor tenant, has inked millions of dollars worth of new contracts recently. IC Data Communications, a minority-owned IT firm, has crossed the 20-employee mark at the TechOne incubator.

"They have done incredibly well," says Randal Charlton, executive director of TechTown. "They're a job-creating machine."

TechTown has also taken some important steps forward numberwise. It houses 237 businesses today, up from 40 some a few years ago. Just over 150 of those are participating in its Thrive program, up from 62 last year. They are being coached by 107 volunteer business mentors (there were 80 in 2010) and 92 interns (21 in 2010).

TechTown is also in the final stages of building out the last spaces of its TechOne incubator building. A $4.1 million HUB grant will help bring another 16,000 square feet online by the end of June. That will create more office space for the 40-start-up-long waiting list for space at the business accelerator.

The new space will have a co-working space for entrepreneurs just starting, a la Tech Brewery in Ann Arbor. It will also allow TechTown to focus on finishing the build out for its TechTwo incubator, the old Dagliesh Cadillac dealership. That will bring another 400,000 square feet online, allowing TechTown to reach its goal of doubling the number of businesses it services. Charlton adds that TechTown will be more involved with arts and creatively-inclined entrepreneurs that will make themselves known.

"That's going to change the look and feel of this place," Charlton says.

Source: Randal Charlton, executive director of TechTown
Writer: Jon Zemke
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