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Dingell collage

August 19, 2015

DEARBORN, MI – As part of Start-Up Day Across America, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today visited local entrepreneurs at Ann Arbor SPARK to showcase the innovation and job creation taking place at their companies. Start-Up Day is a bipartisan effort to raise awareness about the important role startup companies play in our economy by providing local entrepreneurs with an opportunity to educate their representatives about challenges they are facing.

“Fast growing startup companies are no longer unique to Silicon Valley, Austin or Boulder,” said Dingell. “In southeast Michigan and across the country, entrepreneurs are reshaping industries from retail to healthcare to education, and driving the majority of job growth in the United States. We want southeast Michigan to be a hub for these emerging companies, and we’re already well-positioned to lead the way. The entrepreneurs I met today came to Michigan – and want to stay in Michigan – because of the collaborative work environment, the permanent talent pool from our world class colleges and universities, and the support provided by public-private partnerships like Ann Arbor SPARK. In Congress, I’m committed to creating an environment that helps our entrepreneurs innovate, grow and create jobs in southeast Michigan for decades to come.”

“As we’ve seen in Ann Arbor, especially with the revitalization of our Liberty Street corridor, startups have a tremendous, positive impact on our economy,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “These growing companies attract investment to our region, create jobs here, and are the root of our ability to compete, globally, as the ‘Startup City’ where innovation businesses want to grow. We’re proud that SPARK Central plays an important role in supporting Ann Arbor’s startups and entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The SPARK Central Business Incubator provides business space, services and support to help entrepreneurs launch and develop innovation-based technology. With reduced overhead costs, entrepreneurs can put more money back into growing their business.

Dingell was joined at the event by local entrepreneurs who graduated from SPARK’s incubator program, including:

• Grace Hsia, CEO of Warmilu, which makes high-tech warming blankets to help end hypothermia as a leading cause of infant mortality around the world
• Danny Ellis and Tom Brady, co-founders of SkySpecs, which develops drone technology, including the Guardian to help drones automatically avoid obstacles
• Len Gauger, founder and CEO of Message Blocks, a cloud-based event management system to handle ticketing, RSVPs, hosting and other tasks for large events
• Sandy Aldrich, co-founder of Stridepost, a digital to-do tracker, calendar and reward system to help parents establish good habits with their kids

Skip Simms, senior vice president of Ann Arbor SPARK, Donna Doleman, senior vice president, operations and communications, and Bill Mayer, vice president, entrepreneurial services also joined the discussion.

Startups add enormous value to local and national economies, producing an average of 3 million jobs annually. According to Start-up America, 27% of start-ups are owned by women and 33% of start-ups are owned by minorities. These start-up companies are involved in a variety of industries, including technology, retail, healthcare, entertainment, consulting, and education.

In Congress, Dingell is working to create a better climate for startups to get off the ground and grow, including investing in infrastructure, research and development and STEM education, and ensuring sustainable and usable capital is accessible to entrepreneurs.