What is the SmartZone Program? 

The State of Michigan, through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), has designated distinct tech hubs throughout the state known as SmartZones. These geographic groupings encourage public-private-academic collaborations between leading institutions like universities, municipalities, community organizations, and companies with regional economic development organizations. The various entities work in harmony to promote innovation, the commercialization of new ideas, and research and development in both the public and private sectors. Through strategic partnerships, each SmartZone works to increase jobs and invest in technology-related businesses.

SmartZones also include business accelerator programs aimed at nurturing tech startups and connecting entrepreneurs to idea funding, resources, and mentorship. Business accelerators like the one at Ann Arbor SPARK provide affordable spaces and support programs to advance entrepreneurial efforts in driving industries. Ultimately, it’s these public-private partnerships that function as a catalyst for economic development across the state.

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone 

Large colorful Local Development Finance Authority logo

Ann Arbor SPARK’s focus on cultivating business development and entrepreneurship drives economic growth in Southeast Michigan. At the district level, the Ann Arbor/ Ypsilanti SmartZone is referred to as the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), though the terms can be used interchangeably. 

This entity allows the state to disperse tax revenue locally to businesses in four innovation-driving industries: automotive and mobility; life sciences and healthcare; data and information; and technology.

In 2017, the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone was one of three SmartZones that had its funding extended until 2032. The state determines the funding amount for each SmartZone based on tax capture. This tax capture is gathered within geographic boundaries set by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and a small part of the DDA in Ypsilanti.

As the premier business accelerator in the region, SPARK is committed to the economic advancement of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti as well as cultivating a network of successful businesses and innovators.

Below is a comprehensive list of the various SmartZones organized by service area. 

Upper Peninsula Region

  1. Houghton/Hancock SmartZone
  1. Marquette SmartZone
    Innovate Marquette
  1. Sault Ste. Marie SmartZone
    Sault Ste. Marie EDC

West Michigan Region

  1. Muskegon SmartZone
    Muskegon Innovation Hub
  1. Grand Rapids SmartZone
    Spartan Innovations
    Start Garden
  1. Holland SmartZone
    Lakeshore Advantage

East Central Region

  1. Midland SmartZone
    Midland Business Alliance
  1. Mount Pleasant SmartZone

East Michigan Region

  1. Port Huron SmartZone
    St. Clair County EDA

South Central Region

  1. Lansing SmartZone
    Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

Southwest Michigan Region

  1. Battle Creek SmartZone
    Battle Creek Unlimited
  1. Kalamazoo SmartZone
    WMed Innovation Center

Southeast Michigan Region

  1. Ann Arbor SmartZone
    Ann Arbor SPARK
  1. Jackson SmartZone
    Enterprise Group of Jackson
  1. Adrian-Tecumseh SmartZone
    Lenawee Now

Detroit Metro Region

  1. Rochester Hills SmartZone
    OU INC
  1. Sterling Heights SmartZone
    Sterling Heights Velocity Center
  1. Troy SmartZone
    Automation Alley
  1. Southfield SmartZone
    Southfield Centrepolis
  1. Detroit SmartZone