2020 Rural Innovation Initiative selects local Marquette business


MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — Innovate Marquette SmartZone is a non-profit, based in Marquette, that helps support and grow tech-enabled and tech-based businesses and entrepreneurs.

Last week, they received a highly sought-after award that will help benefit them and their clients.

Being selected for the 2020 Rural Innovation Initiative will act as an important addition to the Innovate Marquette SmartZone because it will allow them to expand existing & new entrepreneurial or innovation opportunities and support services not just for the greater-Marquette area, but the entire Upper Peninsula.

The EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program awards grants that build regional capacity to translate innovations into jobs through proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs.

Now, Innovate Marquette SmartZone has the opportunity to apply for those grants.

Rachel Barra, Program Manager, Innovate Marquette SmartZone said, “So being able to participate in the Rural Innovation Initiative gives us the opportunity to apply for a Federal EDA i6 grant in the future. The Center of Rural Innovation team is here to help us plan and map out how we are going to go about that process and actually apply in the coming months.”

The SmartZone works with digital applications and website-based businesses in the U.P. Rachel and her team believe this push will help them expand their reach from local to regional.

“We do a lot of meetups and opportunity for entrepreneurs to get together and maybe learn from other entrepreneurs or hear about a presentation on a topic, but what we are really hoping to do is create more structure and class opportunities that they can learn how to make a financial projection or learn more specific marketing tactics and topics that would be able to implement in their business or even get together with other entrepreneurs who don’t have a fully baked idea and you can find a partner who that might be willing or interested in starting a business with you,” said Barra.

For more information on Innovate Marquette SmartZone, click here.

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