The Lean Rocket Lab announced today that it is receiving $300,000 in support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Consumers Energy Foundation and local organizations to help nurture the next generation of businesses in Jackson.
The Lean Rocket Lab opened in downtown Jackson at 133 W. Michigan Ave. late last year and is providing working space and resources to support start-up companies. The business accelerator is receiving $150,000 from the Michigan Strategic Fund, $100,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation and another $50,000 from Jackson organizations to focus on high-tech manufacturing.
“We want Michigan to know that Jackson is open for business,” said Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy. “With housing and businesses starting up downtown, we are pleased to support the Lean Rocket Lab with a grant that will continue strengthening a foundation for Jackson to thrive, ensuring Michigan’s economic prosperity.”
“The Enterprise Group is excited to partner with the Lean Rocket Lab in their efforts to identify and develop emerging manufacturing and technology companies. Growing these types of innovative companies in the Jackson area will enhance our already strong manufacturing base,” said Tim Rogers, president and CEO of The Enterprise Group of Jackson, the region’s economic development organization.
The $150,000 grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund came at the recommendation of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which has supported other business incubators around Michigan. The grant was awarded to The Enterprise Group and supports the Lean Rocket Lab’s work to help entrepreneurs receive capital funding made available through the state, which can be especially important for young companies to develop and sell products.
The Strategic Fund grant depended on the Lean Rocket Lab receiving the additional $150,000 in local matching dollars. In addition to the Consumers Energy Foundation’s $100,000 grant, other significant contributions came from Gerdau Steel, CP Federal Credit Union, The Phil and Pat Willis Foundation, Bond and Co., Eaton Aerospace, Jackson Area Manufacturers Association, The Cardinal Group, Orbitform, Ronald Betzig and Elite Machining.
The Lean Rocket Lab is developing entrepreneurial support services similar to those found at other incubators throughout the state, including Proto 24, Ann Arbor Spark, Tech Town, Centropolis Accelerator and the Flint Ferris Wheel. The Michigan Strategic Fund aimed to support business incubators in SmartZones, such as Jackson’s, which was designated with help from the Blackman Charter Township Local Development Finance Authority/SmartZone Board, The Enterprise Group and Baker College.
“SmartZones serve as a critical resource to startups from Houghton to Detroit, providing entrepreneurs with access to professional development, mentors and investors,” said Fred Molnar, MEDC vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. “They are essential to keeping and attracting talent to Michigan and are thus a key driving force for the state’s continued economic growth.”
“We’re very excited about the additional opportunities the grant and matching funds create for entrepreneurs in this community and region. We’re observing what’s being done successfully in other markets within the state, while leveraging the expertise and resource concentration in high-tech manufacturing that exists here in Jackson,” Lean Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Brandon Marken said.
“We’re very grateful for the leadership and vision of Consumers Energy and all of our partners, and we believe we can be a critical solution hub for innovation and growth.”