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Innovate the Marquette SmartZone and receive a Federal Capital Challenge Grant of approximately $ 612K




Marquette, Michigan (WLUC)-Innovate Marquette SmartZone (Innovate Marquette) announced Thursday that it has won a Capital Challenge Grant through the US Department of Economic Development (EDA) through the Build to Scale (B2S) program. This grant, called the Capital Challenge, will inject $ 611,911 into regional economic development efforts over the next three years.

Innovate Marquette has applied for a grant as part of the CORI 2021 Rural Innovation Initiative in collaboration with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI). This is a technical assistance program that helps rural communities to create a comprehensive digital economy that supports scalable entrepreneurship and technical job creation.

Innovate Marquette has partnered with Northern Michigan University, InvestUP, and the Innovation Shore Angel Network (ISAN) on its vision for grants. We also receive regular support from regional and state partners such as Accelerate UP, Lake Superior Community Partnership, and Central Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Regional. Commissions, Excellent Watershed Partnerships and Land Conservation, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Marquette City.

Leah Taylor, Head of Digital Economy Consulting at CORI, is excited to learn that Innovate Marquette has won the Build to Scale Capital Challenge grant. Bringing together disparate assets and partners into a cohesive ecosystem of the Upper Peninsula requires vision and leadership.

Innovate Marquette is honored to receive this award in the Marquette community, but it is not the award we receive alone. Joe Thiel, CEO of Innovate Marquette, would not have been able to defend this grant without the support and collaboration of all economic development partners. Rural innovation begins when long-time residents who have laid the foundations of the community work in parallel with those who have a vision for the future of a renewable economy. That’s what you see in today’s Marquette. It’s extremely important and just the beginning.

With $ 611,911 from the Capital Challenge Grant and Matching Fund, Innovate Marquette plans to use new resources for the Make it Marquette Start to Scale (Marquette STS) project, which leverages education, economic development and capital investor partnerships. is.

Marquette STS works with project partners to educate local angel investors on scalable technology investment opportunities and connect to state, region and national venture capital (VC) networks. The output and results of the Marquette STS are as follows:

Supporting 30 scalable tech startups with financial support of $ 5,000 to $ 30,000 each for services from crowdfunding members, providing $ 750,000 seed funding to 50 new angel investors through acceleration Sponsor 15 startups. Develop 25 new VC companies and invest $ 1.5 million $ 5 million in scalable tech startups on the Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

The project is also designed to be 100% sustainable after the proposed 3-year project schedule.

The Innovate Marquette SmartZone is one of only 50 2021 Capital Challenge Grant recipients from the United States and one of only two in Michigan. Grants total $ 36.5 million in federal funding and an additional $ 40 million in matching funding from a variety of private and public sector sources. Marquette was one of only seven rural communities that won this award this year.

Marquette was recently talked about when it was designated by MEDC as a redevelopment ready community. Marquette also joins the CORIs Rural Innovation Network, a community of growing rural communities in 18 states, to train locals in digital skills, hire new economy jobs, and drive startups to drive the economy of the future. We are working on the launch.

For more information on the Innovate Marquette SmartZone, please visit

About Make It Marquette: Make It Marquette was created in 2021 to attract, retain, and support the people and ideas that will shape the future of the business economy in Marquette, Michigan. Make It Marquette tells the story of people who live, work and start a business in Marquette. Marquette is the largest city on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, boasting a strength of 20,000 people. It’s a city big enough to be recognized by mainstream media and entrepreneurial circles as the focus of America’s potential, and small enough to influence anyone who has the courage to pursue their goals. With an established and growing business, technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem, broadband throughout the region, and plenty of space to enjoy an active and outdoor lifestyle, Marquette is an ideal place for anyone who wants to move to the countryside. is. For more information, please visit

About Innovate Marquette SmartZone: The Innovate Marquette SmartZone was created to coordinate, inspire, promote and lead business, government, academic and community leaders to transform Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula into a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem. rice field. SmartZone supports technology-based innovation, new businesses, new job creation, and expansion of existing businesses by leveraging the unique resources, experience, and benefits available at Marquette. SmartZone’s mission is to recognize and promote entrepreneurs in all sectors, to start, grow and succeed new business ideas, and to continue to innovate, prosper and expand existing business ideas with a supportive environment. Is to create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. For more information, please visit

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