HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) — In the modern age, it seems that business is all about tech-based businesses. In the Upper Peninsula, growth can be seen in the Copper Country and the City of Hancock has been waiting for their moment to join.
“Well, I think clearly, the growth of the high-tech sector, under the umbrella of the Michigan Tech SmartZone, has clearly happened and the city sees an opportunity as a kind of strategic opportunity for the city to market itself to the high-technology firms that are in the city and the surrounding areas,” Glenn Anderson, Special Project Advisor, City of Hancock.
When the city purchased the land over two decades ago, the plan was to always turn it into a technology park, but at the time, Hancock only had one high tech-based business. Now, they have 20.
“In the area, we’ve seen a great increase in investment and job creation in technology,” said Anderson. “Generally, that’s software, CAD-design, engineering, inferred technology, all of those in the area.”
Michigan Tech has also been a key contributor to graduates and alumni creating tech-based businesses in the surrounding areas. Anderson said there are over 70 companies that have grown out of Michigan Tech.
“If you look at Hancock specifically, we have a couple of manufacturing businesses in the city, but most of our growth in the job creation within the city, besides the medical sector, has been the high-tech sector. We helped Portage health and their expansion over the years and this is an opportunity to grow the high-tech sector that the city is known for as well.”
With the land being set aside, the cities next move will be how to finance the tech park.
“There are some capacity issues for infrastructure in the area we’ve identified, so we feel there is an opportunity. It’s been on the cities master plan for almost 20 years now and there’s an opportunity to get some federal funding,” said Anderson.
The federal funding would be a grant available through the U.S. Economic Development Administration where they would pay upward of 80% of the costs to build the technology park.
“I think the city is planning to proceed with an application this spring and of course, if successful, we would start construction next year,” said Anderson.
If all goes well, the City of Hancock could see this project completed by the Fall of 2021.
“The cost is estimated at 3 million dollars,” said Anderson. “Of course, 80% of that or 2.4 million dollars, would be covered by the grant. That would leave 600,000 dollars for the local match.”
The city has looked at lowering the local match with other grants and investment opportunities.
“We feel pretty confident that we can put together a package where it would cost little or no cost to the taxpayers of Hancock,” said Anderson.