Macomb Community College and JPMorgan Chase today announced the Innovation Fund, a nearly $3 million effort to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit-area entrepreneurs and next-stage companies with high-growth potential.
Part of JPMorgan Chase's $100 million commitment to Detroit's economic recovery and managed by Macomb Community College, the Innovation Fund will provide valuable capital to entrepreneurs when it's needed most - providing bridge funding at a pivotal time in business development between "family and friends" funding and the ability to attract mainstream financial investor funding.
Formally known as the Innovation Fund Macomb Community College, Powered by JPMorgan Chase & Co., this fund will provide grants, which do not have to be repaid, of up to $25,000 for start-up businesses that are taking the initial steps to get their very early stage idea ready for market introduction. The fund will make larger awards of up to $100,000 to advance the progress of emerging companies toward larger-scale equity funding. These larger awards, which must be matched dollar for dollar by the company, may be required to be paid back or the company may have to provide an equity interest to the Innovation Fund. This approach sustains the Innovation Fund and also instills fund recipients with a long-term commitment to enhancing the region's entrepreneurial environment.
"JPMorgan Chase's contribution is not only a commitment to the economic future of Macomb County, but a commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeast Michigan," said Dr. James Jacobs, president, Macomb Community College, at an event today announcing the Innovation Fund. "Macomb County's success is integrally tied to metro Detroit's success. The Innovation Fund Macomb Community College represents an important, grow-your-own element in our local economic development strategy, while at the same time serves to cultivate the interests, skills and innovation of Macomb students and community residents, fueling economic momentum, investment and regional growth."
JPMorgan Chase, through its foundation, is contributing $1 million to launch the Innovation Fund. Macomb is also providing $1 million from its Strategic Fund, which was authorized by the college board of trustees in late August 2014. Macomb will raise another $700,000, bringing the total commitment to $2.7 million.
"Detroit-area entrepreneurs are vital to southeast Michigan's continued economic recovery, and the Innovation Fund will be a catalyst for creating sustained growth and employment throughout the region," said Chauncy Lennon, managing director for workforce readiness at JPMorgan Chase. "This is a win-win for small businesses and Macomb students. Small businesses, like those in advanced manufacturing, receive needed capital and Macomb students obtain on-the-job training to prepare them for success in the workplace after school."
The Innovation Fund is an integral part of the college's new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which was also announced today, at the college's 60th anniversary celebration. While the event honored the achievements of the past, it focused on new initiatives and commitments designed to contribute to the region's future economic vitality. The center will be located on the college's Center Campus in Clinton Township, initially providing meeting space and resources, such as mentors, for students seeking to start their own businesses.
"This major commitment and investment by Macomb Community College and JPMorgan Chase take the energy and momentum that are driving our communities, region and state forward to new levels," said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
"Michigan is home to unlimited talent and entrepreneurial spirit that will be further unleashed by this collaboration, resulting in more and better jobs. The entire region is primed for continued growth and this announcement and effort is an exciting step in that process."
Both start-ups and emerging companies that are funded by the Innovation Fund will be required to provide meaningful employment opportunities for Macomb Community College students through internships. These experiences will contribute to students learning and developing valuable workplace skills, as well as exposing them to innovative approaches and inspiring them to develop entrepreneurial mindsets.
"Entrepreneurs are finding Detroit and its neighboring communities to be great places to start and grow their businesses," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. "The Innovation Fund will help fuel the economic growth of our entire region, and it is a great example of JPMorgan Chase's ongoing commitment to a stronger Detroit."
Selection of proposals to fund will be accomplished through an engaging and competitive process that benefits entrepreneurs participating, whether or not funding is granted. An advisory board composed of successful, local entrepreneurs will evaluate proposals and make funding recommendations, and serve as mentors.
The Innovation Fund Macomb Community College is modeled after a highly successful program established in 2007 by Lorain County Community College (LCCC), located in northeast Ohio. In five years, LCCC received more than 5,000 inquiries about their program, accepted more than 600 applications and made 99 awards valued at $5.7 million to 85 companies. As a result, the companies funded raised $61 million in add-on capital, provided more than 150 internships to students and created 314 jobs.