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Ann Arbor Spark

Michigan SmartZones

What is the SmartZone Program? 

The State of Michigan, through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), has designated 21 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 

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
    MTEC
    www.mtecsz.com
  1. Marquette SmartZone
    Innovate Marquette
    www.innovatemarquette.org
  1. Sault Ste. Marie SmartZone
    Sault Ste. Marie EDC
    www.saultedc.com

West Michigan Region

  1. Muskegon SmartZone
    Muskegon Innovation Hub
    www.gvsu.edu/mihub
  1. Grand Rapids SmartZone
    Start Garden
    www.startgarden.com
  1. Holland SmartZone
    Lakeshore Advantage
    www.lakeshoreadvantage.com

East Central Region

  1. Midland SmartZone
    Midland Business Alliance
    www.mbami.org
  1. Mount Pleasant SmartZone
    CMURC
    www.cmurc.com

East Michigan Region

  1. Port Huron SmartZone
    St. Clair County EDA
    www.startunderground.com

South Central Region

  1. Lansing SmartZone
    Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)
    www.purelansing.com

Southwest Michigan Region

  1. Battle Creek SmartZone
    Battle Creek Unlimited
    www.bcunlimited.org
  1. Kalamazoo SmartZone
    WMed Innovation Center
    www.med.wmich.edu/node/373

Southeast Michigan Region

  1. Ann Arbor SmartZone
    Ann Arbor SPARK
    www.annarborusa.org
  1. Jackson SmartZone
    Enterprise Group of Jackson
    www.leanrocketlab.info
  1. Adrian-Tecumseh SmartZone
    Lenawee Now
    www.lenaweenow.org

Detroit Metro Region

  1. Rochester Hills SmartZone
    OU INC
    www.oakland.edu/ouinc
  1. Sterling Heights SmartZone
    Sterling Heights Velocity Center
    www.velocity-center.com
  1. Troy SmartZone
    Automation Alley
    www.automationalley.com
  1. Southfield SmartZone
    Southfield Centrepolis
    www.centrepolisaccelerator.com
  1. Detroit SmartZone
    Techtown
    www.techtowndetroit.org
  1. Huron Township SmartZone
    Pinnacle Aeropark
    www.hurontwpldfa.com