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TechTown, regional biz accelerators help create 1,000-plus jobs

A new study from the Kauffmann Foundation shows that the partnership of Metro Detroit's business accelerator agencies, including TechTown, have helped create more than 1,000 jobs in local start-ups.

The Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan, which is composed of TechTown, Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator and Ann Arbor SPARK, has invested $18 million in 339 companies through various funds they manage and helped them attract another $101.2 million in seed capital.

The study, conducted in the first half of 2010, also identifies the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan's strengths, such as mentoring for various stages of entrepreneurs, funding and utilizing strong relationships with local universities, such as Wayne State University and University of Detroit Mercy.

The study also maps out the assets and strengths of each business accelerator so each one can better utilize each other's resources without unnecessarily duplicating them and eliminating such duplications when they occur. For instance, Ann Arbor SPARK has a strong background in life sciences and bio-technology while the Macomb-OU INCubator has extensive connections in the defense industry.

Randal Charlton, executive director of TechTown, points out his incubator has attracted a number of entrepreneurs interested in a large variety of industries. While TechTown does have strong connections with Wayne State and technology spinning out of there, it also is helping a large number of new business people get start-ups off the ground that have little-to-no-ties to higher education.

"Detroiters get it," Charlton says. "What perhaps is different is the type of entrepreneurship they're contemplating."

TechTown has attracted more than 5,000 people to its First Friday entrepreneurial lectures and networking events. It now houses 237 businesses, up from just 40 a few years ago.

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