Summer 2016--Helping Hands

July Member Meeting at OU INCubator

The next MBIA Membership Meeting is scheduled to take place on July 11th at the beautiful OU INCubator in Rochester Hills (1 Golf View Ln, Rochester, MI 48309). MBIA President and SBDC Tech Consultant Sandra Cochrane will lead participants through a discussion of entrepreneurial resources in Michigan. The interactive member meeting will begin at noon, so bring your brown-bag lunch and your knowledge of entrepreneurial resources in your area to share with everyone. This is a free networking event open to all MBIA members. So we can reserve a room of proper size, if you plan to attend, please register here: MBIA Member Meeting

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Keep up with interesting stories, learn about new trends, find out about cool events, share your important content, and stay connected with all things entrepreneurial by following MBIA on Twitter (@MBIA_Michigan) and on Facebook ( We'd love to have you as part of our social media conversations!

Cyber Security Center at the Velocity Hub

Businesses are getting access to a new, secure computer lab that’s part of an effort to hone software and train specialists in cyberdefense. The Velocity Hub in Sterling Heights is linked to the Michigan Cyber Range, offering a place for training and exercises to simulate data hacks and test the effectiveness of software or networks for defense contractors, the auto industry and other businesses. The lab is a place for businesses to work securely and should help boost collaboration between companies, the state and others on cybersecurity, said Jennifer Tisdale, cyberprogram manager for the defense and auto offices of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The Michigan Cyber Range prepares Cybersecurity Professionals to Detect, Prevent and Mitigate Cyber Attacks. Cybersecurity and protecting the nation’s network infrastructure is a vital concern, and Merit Network leads a major project, the Michigan Cyber Range (MCR), to help cybersecurity professionals prepare for real-world situations. The Michigan Cyber Range is dedicated to providing a secure environment for cybersecurity education, training and testing. It also performs research as an advanced platform for industrial control systems security. The MCR is an unclassified private cloud operated by Merit. It delivers cybersecurity classes and exercises and enables product development and testing to clients and Merit Members across the nation and throughout the world.

MI Defense Center at MEDC

The Michigan Defense Center is now offering a Proposal Writing Services grant program to assist Michigan companies in writing a bid response to a Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security contract opportunity. Details can be found at  Interested companies should contact their regional PTAC to apply for this new grant.

How to Sell to the Government

The Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) Program was established by Congress in 1985 to help create jobs and to improve the local economy by assisting business firms in obtaining and performing under federal, state, and local government contracts. Michigan PTACs are funded by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Michigan Defense Center/MEDC and local economic partners. There are 11 regional PTAC offices to help Michigan companies to successfully secure, perform and retain defense contracts. Michigan was the first state to
establish PTACs and has been the model for other states across the country. The PTACs’ professional staff assists companies throughout the entire procurement process from beginning to end. Learn more about PTACs here:

From Farm to Table

Sandra Cochrane

As many people know, Michigan is a manufacturing hub with thousands of businesses engaged in bringing physical products to market. But outside of eastern Michigan, much of the state is rural, and agricultural businesses thrive.  In fact, Michigan produces more than 300 commodities, making it the second most diverse agriculture industry in the nation just behind California. And many support services exist to assist food-based businesses in Michigan. From kitchen incubators to commercial kitchens, from ag-focused venture funds to state entities, below is a list of some programs might be of interst to you and/or your client companies.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development has grants, loans, and other resources available to help people grow their agri-businesses. It also offers exporting assistance.

The Michigan Farm Bureau is the state's largest general farm organization. As a general farm organization it represents the wide variety of commodity sectors that make up Michigan's agricultural diversity. Its mission is to represent, protect, and enhance the business, economic, social and educational interests of farmer members.  

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is a 12-member Council established by the Legislature to promote Michigan's wine and wine grape-growing industries by providing for research, education and the promotion of the Michigan wine grape and wine industry, and by stimulating economic development through value-added, sustainable agriculture. New wineries are starting up in Michigan every year, wine grape acreage continues to grow, sales of Michigan wines are increasing, and the reputation of Michigan as a world-class wine region is gaining more national and international attention.

The Michigan Ag Council is an organization of commodity groups and agribusinesses working together to raise awareness of food and agriculture today. The Michigan Ag Council celebrates the wealth and diversity of Michigan agriculture by educating people about the foods and commodities produced by Michigan farmers, who take exceptional care of their land, animals and community to provide safe food for Michigan and beyond.

The International Food Protection Training Institute is improving public health by building competency-based training and certification systems and cultivating leadership for the food protection community worldwide. IFPTI builds competency-based training and certification systems for U.S. and international public- and private-sector food safety professionals.

Open Prairie is a premier, Midwest-based, private equity fund manager providing fund deployment, advisory, and strategic planning services to our valued partners since 1997. Drawing upon decades of operational experience in his family’s industrial, banking and agriculture businesses, Jim Schultz founded Open Prairie to address the lack of innovation-focused private equity in the Midwest. Since then, Open Prairie and its highly experienced team has managed over $100 million in fund commitments and provided private equity services to clients focusing on specialty industries including agricultural, life science, medical device, software, information technology, energy, manufacturing, and real estate.

The Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator specializes in helping farmers and ag-related entrepreneurs commercialize, license, or sell their ag-technology inventions – whether its equipment, tools, machinery, software, or other specialized products.

The MSU Product Center can help entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high value products and businesses in the food, agricultural and natural resource sectors.  Whether a budding entrepreneur or established business, the MSU Product Center is the front door to Michigan State University’s vast and varied technical expertise, research, outreach and educational services.    

Michigan Food Hubs are centrally located facilities with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally food products. The Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network partners with the National Food Hub Collaboration in connecting Michigan food hubs and other regional food businesses with educational, technical and financial resources and expertise available across the country.  The two co-leaders of the Michigan network also serve on the core team of the National Food Hub Collaboration.

What other agricultural-focused resources do you know about? Post your comments on the MBIA bulletin board at:  Let's keep the conversation going!

SBDC Offers Many Services

Sandra Cochrane

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) is a state-wide nonprofit organization offering support to businesses of all sizes, at all stages, in all industries. As long as a company has less than 500 employees, the SBDC is able to offer assistance. Basically, the SBDC offers three things: one-on-one consulting and advice, education/training programs, and secondary market research service.

One-on-one consulting entails receiving advice, mentoring, and coaching from any of the 80+  seasoned consultants throughout the state of Michigan. Whether meeting in person, talking on the phone, engaging in a Skype conversation, or communicating via email, SBDC consultants are available to offer relevant advice and direct entrepreneurs to appropriate resources.

SBDC offers training programs, too. Whether you are interested in a live class in your area or prefer a webinar in the privacy of your home or office, the SBDC has a seminar for you. Classes can be searched by delivery type (live or online), by date, and by location. To peruse a list of training offerings, go to

Lastly, the SBDC offers secondary market research services, With access to dozens of databases and online repots, the SBDC research team can locate information on customer demographics, industry trends, and competitive firms. And most SBDC consultants can show you how to conduct your own market research using tools like the Michigan Electronic Library (  If your business generates at least $50,000 in annual revenue, the SBDC will analyze your company website and provide a free SEO report explaining what aspects of your online presence are strong and which could use some attention. The report will offer suggestions for ways to improve your online presence. For companies with larger revenues and/or international operations, a more comprehensive SEO analysis is available. Both types of SEO analysis as well as basic market research services are offered free of charge.

The SBDC provides unparalleled assistance and connectivity to other resources throughout Michigan. And the best part is, the SBDC is a free resource. Funded by federal, state, and local dollars, the SBDC is your tax dollars at work, supporting local small business, So whether your client companies are manufacturers, retailers, service entities, science-based firms, IT businesses, or anything else, the SBDC can help. To sign up, go to
MBIA Template 1 - Summer 2016--Helping Hands