MTEC SmartZone


Scott MacInnes, Interim CEO

Starting a new company or growing an existing one? MTEC SmartZone can help.

Since April 2002, MTEC SmartZone has been guiding entrepreneurs and helping create high tech jobs in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. We’re one of 15 Michigan SmartZones that provide office space, training, access to funding, coaching and other resources to help businesses owners develop ideas, patents and innovative opportunities.

Our work is made possible through partnerships with the cities of Houghton and Hancock, MTUnological University, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance and Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and local and statewide economic development organizations.



Work where you want to live. TalentBridge companies who have opened satellite offices in the MTEC SmartZone have realized cost-saving growth through insourcing. Their employees also benefit from the peaceful, scenic quality of life in the Upper Peninsula.

Some of the benefits of opening in the MTEC SmartZone include:

  • New business model for insourcing
  • Lower start-up and maintenance costs
  • Highest quality engineering at great value
  • Discover talent and recruit student employees
  • Maintain control of IP and innovations
  • Build company loyalty – student to permanent employee
  • Increase workforce diversity
  • Employee knowledge value retained and increased
  • Outstanding quality of life, with year-round recreation and scenic landscapes

Companies that have utilized the TalentBridge program:

  • GE Aviation
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Dematic
  • Jackson National Life Insurance
  • Systems Control
  • Calumet Electronics

Office of Innovation and Industry


Jim Baker, Executive Director,
(906) 487-3459

The Office of Innovation and Industrial Engagement (IIE) coordinates and delivers our Innovation Shore services and programs which connect a vast array of expertise, services, and initiatives in basic and applied research, training and education, technology commercialization, intellectual property licensing, and start-up business development. We support leading-edge researchers, educators, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs via a robust network of on-campus industry-relations professionals and affiliated region partners and service providers.

MTU is a member of the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (M-CRN), a statewide university network missioned to connect Michigan-hatched corporations to critical university assets, promoting innovative research and economic growth. Visit for details.

Keweenaw Research Center


Jay Meldrum

Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) is a multidisciplinary research center wholly supported by external corporate and governmental agency funding. Research and development activities are primarily based on a broad spectrum of ground vehicle performance.

Typical activities include:

  • Vehicle design and operation as an integrated system
  • Research in vehicle mobility
  • Material properties of tracked and wheeled vehicle components
  • Vehicle-terrain-human interactions
  • Noise, vibration, and sound quality

Computer-aided engineering and modeling are used extensively. KRC provides opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty to perform research in several areas: composite materials, finite element methods, and vehicle dynamics modeling.

KRC maintains more than 740 acres of proving grounds, including many miles of prepared test tracks. Ride and handling loops, a circular track, an ice rink, a snow-packed area, and a rugged off-road obstacle course all provide the backdrop for research in vehicle mobility.

The Institute of Snow Research, an auxiliary component of KRC, is engaged in basic and applied research into snow, ice, and cold-environment engineering. Fundamental study of ice sintering, dynamic behavior of snow, and the mechanism of ice adhesion are examples of recent work. In addition, the Institute works in several areas related to snowmobile safety, including trail grooming and layout, trail safety signs, and the effects of snowmobile track studs on public road crossings.

Multi-Scale Technologies Institute (MuSTI)


Multi-scale technologies are those that bring together functional elements to form systems where the relative size of components within the system spans from the nano through the micro and into the macro domain. The systems focus of the Multi-Scale Technologies Institute (MuSTI) emphasizes the challenges associated with integrating technologies that have relative feature sizes orders of magnitude apart and operating characteristics that are size dependent. This presents many problems that must be addressed by interdisciplinary teams of researchers using specialized equipment.

Research focuses on engineered systems and components such as nanoelectronics, nanosensors and systems, and associated materials. MuSTI is home to interdisciplinary nano- and micro-technologies education programs—such as an interdisciplinary minor in Nanoscale Science and Engineering. The establishment of MuSTI is based on MTU’s focus on applied research, established practices of interdisciplinary research, capabilities in testing, and strong engineering and science programs.


Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute


Mark Rudnecki

The Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute (MiFBI) works to promote economic development concerning the growth, utilization and recycling of forest biomaterials. We aim to identify resources and incentives needed to develop a high, sustainable quality of life in Michigan through the optimal use of natural resources.

MiFBI is a broad coalition of stakeholders across industry, academia, and government dedicated to grow the state’s economy by expanding the use and value of forest biomaterials while enhancing the quality of local communities and our environment. MiFBI is headquartered at MTUnological University and takes advantage of the research and development capabilities of MTU and its partner Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan.

We define forest biomaterials as any organic materials that are grown in and extracted from forest ecosystems. While “traditional” wood products hold tremendous value as a forest biomaterial, the initiative includes a wide range of possibilities including non-timber forest products.

The full value of our forest resources is still unknown and complex social, technological, and ecological challenges wait to be resolved. However, communities and businesses can (and many have) already engage in the bio-based economic sector, as there is an array of commercial product and process technologies currently available. A sustainable future will not emerge spontaneously and it will not be based on non-renewable resources. We will need to strive toward our sustainable future and wise use of our forests is a fundamental part of the answer.


Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)


The MEDC is the state-wide economic development organization whose mission is to market Michigan and provide the tools and environment to drive job creation and investment

The MEDC provides services, resources and incentives covering access to capital, B2B opportunities (Pure Michigan Business Connect), finding talent, loans to small and mid-sized companies, funding to redevelop buildings in urban areas, and cash-based incentives for locating and expanding companies.

Michigan offers one of the best pro-business environments in the country. We have been ranked one of the Top 10 states for corporate tax competitiveness due to our simple, fair and efficient 6% corporate income tax and $500 million in annual business savings through the elimination of industrial personal property tax.

Michigan provides millions of dollars in support each year for business expansions and growth through our resources, incentives and loans.

Individual Income Tax
Michigan’s individual income tax rate is one of the lowest in the nation – a flat 4.25% tax rate that is scheduled to decline in the next few years.

Sales Taxes
The state sales tax is 6% on sales of tangible goods. No local sales taxes are allowed.

There is no state sales tax charged on:
• Manufacturing machinery and equipment
• Electricity and natural gas used in production
• Pollution control equipment

Unemployment Insurance
To protect workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, Michigan businesses pay unemployment insurance on the first $9,500 of wages paid to each worker in a calendar year. Established employers may pay as little as 0.06%.

The unemployment insurance rate is based on the experience rating of the business, which varies depending on how many employees draw unemployment insurance benefits. The new employer rate is 2.7%. Once a business is established in Michigan, businesses’ experience ratings vary between 0.06% and 10.3%.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Michigan has a competitive workers’ compensation (WC) insurance system. Michigan’s “open competition” system allows market forces to set the WC insurance rates, thus enabling companies to shop among nearly 250 insurance carriers for the best, lowest-cost options. Self-insurance, group self-insurance, deductible plans and other options are available, as well. With such a wide-range of cost-savings opportunities, Michigan businesses can play a significant role in containing or reducing their WC costs. The following sources will help you understand and navigate through the WC insurance system.

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Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!

Savannah Dougherty
Employer Specialist
Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!
Office: 906-482-6916 x 1606

In 2020, UPward Talent Council became Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!. With our rebranding, we are bringing more clarity to the regional significance of Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! and generating more excitement about what we do for businesses, individuals, and communities across our region. The process excites us, and the challenges inspire us to work harder. In the past,we got people ready to work. Today, we are getting them ready to win.



SmartStart will help you transform good ideas into great opportunities. We provide the perfect setting for entrepreneurs to grow ideas into successful businesses. This program goes beyond books and theories, offering hands-on coaching. Entrepreneurs will learn by doing, exploring the operations, funding and marketing needed to launch and grow a business.

You’ll get access to experienced business experts (legal, intellectual property, marketing, research, financial) and the guidance of SmartStart Director Jason Mack. He provides entrepreneurial coaching to help you develop a business value proposition for your technology ideas. His experience in economic growth provides the resources you need to launch your product into the marketplace.

SmartStart provides business counseling, access to office space, workshops and a collaborative process. This experience allows entrepreneurs to:

  • Understand how to captivate a market and identify target customers
  • Learn how to build a team
  • Examine concepts and plans
  • Calculate funding needed and understand ways to access it
  • Protect the idea through trademarks, copyrights and patents
  • Present ideas to investors for feedback

SmartStart’s mentoring and coaching program welcomes community members, students and local business people who are passionate about their ideas. We are always looking for:

  • Existing small businesses wanting to grow or diversify
  • Anyone who has entrepreneurial spirit
  • CEOs are also wanted to help coach and mentor companies, which could result in a partnership
  • Students who are passionate about starting their own business

Michigan Technological University (MTU)


MTU is the innovation pipeline for the region - mtu innovation. MTU has expertise and a strong reputation in advanced materials and advanced manufacturing and engineering. MTU was awarded designation as the Advanced Materials innovation hub center in the State of Michigan through the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program. Under MTRAC, the Michigan Strategic Fund (“MSF”) is providing grant funding to accelerate technology transfer from several Michigan institutions of higher education in a limited number of technology areas such as automotive technologies (University of Michigan), agriculture technologies (Michigan State University), life sciences (University of Michigan), and advanced materials (MTU). The AMMP Accelerator and Seed Fund will provide further outlets for the research conducted at MTU students and faculty.

MTU’s Materials Science and Engineering Department (MSE) has world class production prototyping facilities which include a foundry for casting, and extrusion. Strengths are with aluminum, alloy development, additives and wire/WAAM, primarily for use as consumables. MSE partners with other departments including individuals with expertise in fields such as forestry biomaterials, space technologies, physics and biomedical, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering to assist with materials research, development and commercialization.

MTU also has established relationships with corporate strategic partners and a rich network of business development, research, and product development, and technology scout contacts, as well as a deep familiarity with product and technology needs in the advanced materials and manufacturing process technology areas. These relationships and experience will enable efficient connections between corporate strategic needs and client capabilities.

Within MTU are several specialized Centers and Institutes.

Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC)

The APSRC building is a 55,000 sq ft test and research facility located ½ mile from the Houghton County Airport (CMX) at 23199 Airpark Blvd, Calumet, MI 49913. It contains extensive laboratories, vehicle facilities, a vehicle fleet, and offices. It is adjacent to the Keweenaw Research Center (above) with access to the test courses. Labs and facilities include a mobile lab, engine dynamometer test cell, vehicle systems research lab, powertrain-transmission-torque test cell, climatic vehicle chamber, and vehicle system research and development lab.


MTU Research Insittute (MTRI)



  • Be a recognized leader in the research, development, and use of information technology to support solution of critical problems in national security, infrastructure, bioinformatics, earth sciences, and environmental processes.
  • Be acknowledged nationally and internationally as an innovator for the marriage of phenomenological understanding and implementation of mathematically rigorous algorithms to build information from data in support of sponsor needs.
  • Provide visibility and outreach for MTU in Southeastern Michigan.
  • Establish collaborations with MTU academic departments, institutes, and centers to increase funded contract revenues for all organizations involved.
  • Maintain a creative environment that rewards and encourages innovation.

MTRI is a recognized leader in the research, development, and practical application of sensor and information technology to solve critical problems in national security, protecting and evaluating critical infrastructure, bioinformatics, earth sciences, and environmental processes.

Institute of Materials Processing (IMP)


The Institute of Materials Processing (IMP) is an innovative, multi-disciplined, non-profit, industrially oriented research and development center. IMP:

• Holds over 60 patents
• Located in a $47.7 million dollar research facility on campus
• Funded solely from royalties and research projects

IMP has been providing entrepreneurs and industry with the resources to study minerals, environmental concerns and materials processing for over 40 years. Having completed over 1200 projects for clientele such as The Ford Motor Company, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, U.S. Steel, INCO, Pfizer, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Cleveland Cliffs, and numerous small firms, the IMP provides a broad spectrum of services to the development and implementation of new processes. Confidential and or proprietary projects are routinely conducted. With each stage of development, from project conception to plant commissioning, the ideal method to ensure a feasible project is through material characterization and analysis, properly engineered laboratory studies, pilot plant runs, and final circuit refinement.

Staffed by full-time research engineers, scientists, and technicians from diverse scientific backgrounds, who are dedicated to assisting industry in problem-solving through the use of $20 million dollars’ worth of advanced analytical instruments and modern processing equipment, with immediate access to the resources of one the of the largest engineering schools in United States. We at the Institute of Materials Processing can assist you in meeting the challenges associated with each phase of your project’s development, from preliminary studies to the final design and construction of a commercial operation.


Small Business Development Center of Michigan (SBDC)


Daniel Yoder, Senior Business Consultant

The Michigan SBDC provides counseling, training, and research to assist small business to launch, grow, transition and innovate.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) enhances Michigan’s economic wellbeing by providing counseling, training and research for new ventures, existing small businesses and advanced technology companies.

The SBDC is headquartered at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids and provides provide entrepreneurs and business owners with convenient access to counseling and training throughout Michigan through 11 regional offices and more than 20 satellite offices.

The Keweenaw is served by SBDC consultants of Region 1 which encompasses the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. KEDA provides initial consultations for the SBDC as well as coordinated follow up.


Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)


Don Makowski, Procurement Counselor

PTAC staff are trained contracting specialists that will help you obtain the most current and relevant information available, provide insight into the research process and coach you through the government contracting process, from start to finish. To do this, we offer support and services in the areas listed below. Many of the services available through the PTACs of Michigan are free of charge. The Keweenaw is served by a contracting specialist based in the Upper Peninsula who regularly visits the area.

One-on-One Counseling
One of the PTACs’ most requested services, one-on-one business counseling, provides an opportunity to address specific client issues such as: applications and registrations, marketing strategies, bid preparation assistance, subcontracting opportunities, pre-award survey preparation, quality requirements, contract modifications, electronic commerce, and troubleshooting.

Bid Matching
Locating government bid opportunities can be very time consuming. Electronic bid matching scans a variety of government agencies to provide a report specific to your company’s product or service. Bid Match provides a wide variety of government bid opportunities including those from the FedBizOpps database, DLA’s bulletin boards, various EDI systems, state and local agencies, and foreign entities. To ensure that you see only those bids you are interested in, we help you develop search profiles that contain keywords, Product Service Codes (PSC/FSCs), and National Stock Numbers (NSNs).

Proposal Preparation & Submission
Your local PTAC is here to help you create a quality proposal that contains all the necessary information in the correct format. Government contracts and solicitations frequently refer to documents to explain rules and regulations that must be followed under the government contract at hand. Your local PTAC can connect you with the resources and documentation needed to effectively respond to contracts.

Seminars, Training Events & Workshops
The PTACs frequently host training sessions to assist local companies in learning more about specific government procurement topics. Our educational events are also an excellent way to connect with fellow local businesses. Visit your local PTAC’s website to learn more about upcoming events in your area.

Government Registrations
Companies looking for assistance completing their System for Award Management (SAM) registration, State of Michigan Vendor Registration, Online Representations and Certifications (ORCA), or any other registration should contact their local PTAC for assistance.

Subcontracting Assistance
The Federal Government has a legislated policy that socio-economic goals need to be met for small business and specified classifications of small business: disadvantaged, 8(a) certified, women owned, disadvantaged women owned, HUBZone, veteran owned, and service disabled veteran owned concerns. These small businesses shall have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in the performance of Federal contracts. Federal contractors who receive contracts valued at $650,000 (or $1,500,000 for construction) are required to carry out this policy in the awarding of subcontracts to the fullest extent consistent with the efficient performance of the contract. Your area PTAC can assist you in navigating through the subcontracting opportunities that are right for your business.

State Of Michigan Contracting Assistance
The Michigan DTMB-Purchasing Operations’ Contract Connect website provides information and educational services to businesses looking to contract with the State of Michigan. The Department manages the procurement of commodities, services, and information technology valued at $25,000 and above for all state agencies. Contract Connect also provides opportunities in design and construction and real estate leasing.

At the website, you can view the current contract portfolio DTMB-Purchasing Operations Contract List. You will also find training materials and upcoming events that will help guide you through the state contracting process. To contact Purchasing Staff, please email You will also find contact information for individual state agencies handling procurements of $25,000 and below in the Buyer Contact List located on the website.

Post-Win Assistance
PTACs provide post-win assistance to businesses to ensure a contract is successfully completed. Your local PTAC can help you make the most of your contract.

For a complete listing of PTAC seminars, please visit here.

MIOSHA Safety Training

It is the objective of MIOSHA to provide a safe environment for our MTI participants. In order to safely facilitate the in-seat training provided by our instructors and cosponsors, MTI participants must observe the following:

o Wear a face covering.
o Wash hands thoroughly before entering the classroom, or use hand sanitizer.
o Sit 6 feet apart or at least two empty chairs between.

Cannot attend class if experiencing any of the following symptoms that developed within the last two weeks:
o Fever
o Chills
o Persistent coughs
o Shortness of breath
o Muscle aches
o Headache
o Loss of taste or smell
o Sore throat
o Runny nose
o Nausea or vomiting

MIOSHA Training COVID Response Plan


July 27, 28, 29, 2021 - MIOSHA General Industry Ten Hour + (3 days) - Virtual

September 9, 2021 – Hazard Communications (1 day) (General Industry & Construction) - Virtual

October 20, 2021 Part 45. Fall Protection (Construction) (1 day) - In person


February 2, 2022 Part 2. Masonry wall Bracing (half-day class) - In person

March 31, 2022 - Parts 6, 33, and 433 - Personal Protective Equipment Standards (1 day) (General Industry & Construction) - In person

April 27, 2022 – Job Safety Analysis (half day class) (General Industry & Construction) - In person

May 26, 2022 – Machine Guarding and Hazard Identification (1 day) (General Industry) - In person

July 13, 2022 - Silica in General Industry and Construction (half-day class) - In person


All In person workshops are held at the Lakeshore Center community room #123, 600 Lakeshore Drive, Houghton.
To register or for more information, contact Jeff Ratcliffe at 906-482-6817 or

Business Financing



Todd Horton

Michigan Certified Development Corporation (MCDC) is a non-profit corporation authorized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide SBA 504 financing throughout Michigan. With projects in nearly 90% of Michigan's counties MCDC is the leading provider of SBA financing in the state of Michigan and is recognized as a leader in Michigan and nationally. MCDC was the first CDC in Michigan to be designated Premier SBA lender. This elite designation is awarded to less than 10% of all CDC's nationally and allows the MCDC to step into the role of the SBA in approving loan transactions.

SBA 504 Loan Program
• Finance commercial real estate and equipment.
• Up to 90 percent financing available
• Long-term, fixed-rate financing
• Extended lender limits

SBA 7(a) Loan Packaging
• Working capital, business acquisition, and debt refinancing
• Guaranteed loan program - up to 85 percent SBA guaranty
• Long-term financing - up to 25 years
• Lower risk and improve liquidity


Northern Initiatives

Dennis West

Northern Initiatives is a non-profit Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) that provides loans to small business owners and entrepreneurs in Northern Michigan that might not qualify for loans from traditional banks for a variety of reasons. NI is also an SBA 7(a) lender.



Local Revolving Loan Funds

Jeff Ratcliffe

KEDA manages two local small business revolving loan funds (RLF) to provide working capital and to help businesses purchase machinery and equipment for projects in Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties. Loans can be from $5,000 to $100,000 and are based on the borrower's ability to create new jobs for Keweenaw residents. Personal guarantees are required. Our RLF's can partner with local banks, the MTEC Superior Edge Fund, and Northern Initiatives to provide appropriate financing.

Houghton County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Revolving Loan Fund

Jeff Ratcliffe

The Houghton County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority now has revolving fund loans available to support the redevelopment of contaminated, tax reverted, blighted, or functionally obsolete property in Houghton County. These are locally governed loan funds that can be used to pay for baseline environmental assessments, preparation of brownfield plans and work plans, remediation costs, demolition costs and lead and asbestos abatement. If it is an eligible activity under Michigan’s Brownfield Redevelopment Act, it is eligible to be covered by the local loan fund.

This is a source of local funding for costs that a project would incur that would not be encountered if the property were not in an adverse condition. The loan payments are made through the annual payment of property taxes. This converts a normal real estate operating expense back into the additional financing needed to make a project work. Rate and term are based on the specific project, its taxable value at completion, estimated taxes paid, and financing needed. If only local property taxes are needed to handle loan repayment, then the approval process only requires local approval.


Michigan Business Growth Fund Collateral Support Program

Vicki Schwab, Business Development Manager
Michigan Economic Development Corporation

The intent of the Michigan Business Growth Fund Collateral Support Program (MBGF-CSP) is to supply cash collateral accounts to lending institutions to enhance the collateral coverage of borrowers. These accounts will cover all or a portion of a calculated collateral shortfall as described by the lending institution. Borrowers with a collateral shortfall will apply for coverage through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which provides the administrative services for the program for the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF). If approved, the MSF will deposit the cash into an interest bearing account with that lender and this account will then be pledged as collateral on behalf of the borrower. Based on an amortization schedule, the MSF will draw down the account as the loan principal is paid.
In the event of full default, the lender will have rights to the account less a liquidation fee.

To qualify, a business must be engaged with a private lender for the purpose of acquiring a commercial extension of commercial credit and must exhibit a collateral shortfall according to the lender's analysis. Borrower must have no more than 750 employees and otherwise comply with all state and federal requirements for the program.