SmartZone offers help to local entrepreneurs

HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation SmartZone set a goal of starting a minimum of seven businesses per year. This includes members of the local community who have an idea but not much else, according to Marilyn Clark, Smartzone’s chief executive officer.

“Our SmartStart Program is really meant to have a person who has an idea but not yet a business come and vet whether that idea is going to make him or herself enough money to sustain (themselves),” Clark said.

In addition to the entrepreneur, Clark said ideally, SmartStart also wants a growth company that will ultimately provide 10 or more jobs.

“In Smart Start, we’ll take anybody and any idea, because a lot of those ideas then get settled in the community, and they’re individual entrepreneurs who make a difference,” Clark said.

The SmartStart program provides the setting for entrepreneurs to expand ideas into businesses. The program goes beyond books and theories, the SmartStart website states. It offers hands on coaching, professional business counseling, access to office space, workshops and a collaborative process.

Entrepreneurs will learn by doing, exploring the operations, funding and marketing needed to launch and grow a business, the website states.

Clark said the goal of the SmartStart program is to build an entrepreneurial community in the Copper Country.

“Our goal is that by 2032 we will have created a community of entrepreneurs that support each other in today’s very different world. There is much more need for young people to create their own living, and we’re going to part of that.”

Through the program, entrepreneurs have access to business experts that provide legal, intellectual property advice, marketing and financial research, and other guidance, the website states. Entrepreneurs will also receive knowledge and necessary resources to see a product idea into a product that will be launched into the market place.