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EAST LANSING, MI-With Detroit’s economy falling ill from depleted auto activity, MSU and the cities of Lansing and East Lansing have joined forces to generate new business. Known as a SmartZone, the goal is to promote the collection of new and emerging companies.

Cities with SmartZones are hoping to attract businesses focused on commercializing ideas, patents and other opportunities surrounding corporate, university or private research institute research and development efforts. To lure firms, businesses locating to a SmartZone are provided incubator space, entrepreneurial expertise, exposure to potential markets, access to capital, incentives and long-term profitable locations.

The Lansing Regional SmartZone marks the 12th SmartZone in the state. A program of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., SmartZones are geographically specific to allow technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers an area that will provide community assets to assist in their endeavors.

David Hollister, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth for the state of Michigan, says the collaboration with MSU will prove to be a fruitful venture because of the institution’s wealth of research and innovation. “Across Michigan, higher education institutions make a critical contribution to economic development through things like SmartZones.”

The SmartZone approach has indeed proven successful. For example, in the first half of 2004, more than $84 million in private investment and $878,000 in public investment had occurred within the Oakland County SmartZone.

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