View of campus shoreline.

Celebrating Small Business Week: U.P. Region Wins Excellence and Innovation Award

Michigan Tech and the UP SBDC's award-winning partnership on Innovation Shore.

Five months serving as host to the UP Regional Office of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Michigan Tech and region recognized by state.

The week of April 29 was National Small Business Week. Posted to Google's search page all week was a small message asking users to "Share your love for a favorite small business" by writing a review or adding ratings of places on Google Maps. Google also promoted the hashtag #SmallThanks, though most users opted for the more obvious #SmallBusinessWeek to shout out to their favorite local businesses.

For Michigan Technological University's Office of Innovation and Commercialization (I&C), it's small business week every week, especially since January 1, 2018, when Michigan Tech took over as host of the UP Regional Office of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Jim Baker, executive director of IIE, says, "IIE has been involved in small business engagement forever. We’ve been involved in the regional SBDC office in one way or another for 15 years."

The Michigan SBDC is funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as well as the State of Michigan to provide support for small businesses through business counseling, which identifies and addresses small businesses' needs. The Michigan SBDC covers 11 regions. The UP is its own region.

The IIE hosts a staff of five, including Regional Director Laura Marohnic. When asked about the partnership between the Michigan SBDC and Tech, Marohnic said, "It has been a wonderful transfer. Our transition to Michigan Tech has been a very smooth and very easy transition, and that’s because of Michigan Tech."

In coordination with National Small Business Week, the SBDC hosted their annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event in Lansing on May 3, 2018. The festivities included an award ceremony. The UP region was recognized for the first time with the U.S. SBA Michigan SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award.

Marohnic attributes the award to a number of factors. "It was not just managing the host change, but because of our extremely successful rate. We carry about 25 percent of the state's new business startups, even though the UP has only three percent of the state's population and is so rural. It was really nice to be recognized."

Baker hopes the partnership between Michigan Tech and the SBDC will continue to provide opportunities for students in the School of Business and Economics to work with and for regional small businesses. He also sees the partnership as a way to increase awareness among small business owners of the resources Michigan Tech can offer them, such as "licenses to University technology and the transfer of faculty or researcher know-how, which benefits both the company and the University,” he says.

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Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.