Ann Arbor SPARK, a nonprofit business accelerator, recently conducted its rescheduled virtual annual meeting, reviewed its work in 2019, and its assistance to the business community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Krutko, president and CEO, Ann Arbor SPARK, detailed SPARK’s COVID-related efforts to support businesses throughout the region, distributing funds from the state of Michigan, Washtenaw County, and various foundations and private individuals. This included:
- $8.1 million awarded to 446 companies through the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant program.
- $1.9 million awarded to 648 companies through the Michigan Small Business Relief Fund.
- $1.38 million awarded to 529 companies through the Washtenaw Small Business Relief Fund.
According to the organization’s 2019 annual report, it participated in 31 company growth projects that generated $132 million in new investment commitments, 534 new jobs, and nearly 1,200 retained jobs.
It also provided assistance via services and grants to 262 startups, including 86 early stage companies housed at the SPARK Central Innovation Center, located in downtown Ann Arbor, and at SPARK East in Ypsilanti.
More than $1 million was invested in 11 early stage companies through the Michigan Angel Fund, which is administered by Ann Arbor SPARK.
“Every year the Ann Arbor SPARK’s annual meeting is an important community event celebrating the collective successes of our private, public and academic regional economic development partnership,” says Krutko. “We were determined to hold this meeting virtually and had more stakeholders and community members register than ever before to hear our report on what the partnership has achieved in 2019 in terms of investment, jobs and company formation and growth.
“SPARK’s work in attracting, retaining, and growing businesses that sell products and services to national and global markets has built and is building the foundation that is necessary for our recovery from today’s economic uncertainty as well as our future growth.”
SPARK also recognized the most outstanding projects in its two main focus areas; business development of mature companies, and entrepreneurial service support to startups and early stage companies.
MI-HQ received SPARK’s Business Development Company of the Year award. In 2019, MI-HQ expanded, adding a new, $2.5-million, 35,000-square-foot building on its campus.
May Mobility was recognized as the Entrepreneurial Company of the Year. Ann Arbor SPARK worked to attract May Mobility to the region and supported its growth through talent and marketing initiatives as well as a grant to brand their vehicles.
SPARK also recognized Ted Dacko, founder of Arbor Dakota Strategies, as Volunteer Leader of the Year. He was recognized for making significant contributions to advancing the mission of the partnership. Dacko has been a fixture for years within the SPARK Incubator Network, helping companies as a mentor, an entrepreneur-in-resident, and serving on boards.
Ann Arbor SPARK’s 2020 annual meeting was part of its a2Tech360 program, featuring seven days of 16 events showcasing innovation in the Ann Arbor area.
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