Michigan Strategic Fund Approves $2.5M Investment in Flint Ferris Projects


Following a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the historic Flint Ferris Building is set to re-open as an entrepreneurial hub after being shuttered for nearly 30 years. The renovation includes plans for a 46,000 square-foot, seven-story flex office space, anchored by the Flint Ferris Wheel Innovation Center, designed by Flint-based SkyPoint Ventures.

The investment by the MSF allocates $1.5 million to the establishment of the Ferris Wheel Innovation Center Business Incubator Grant and $1 million through the Michigan Community Revitalization Program to assist the redevelopment of the Ferris Building where the innovation center is housed. It is the latest in a series of efforts dedicated to fostering long-term economic growth across the city of Flint, including the recent investment of $5.4 million by Huntington Bank.

“Not only will this project redevelop a seven-story vacant building in downtown Flint, but the business climate and entrepreneurial hub will add vibrancy, people on the street, and a viable way forward for many Flint residents well into the future,” says Steve Arwood, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the state’s business marketing and attraction arm that administers and performs due diligence on economic programs on behalf of MSF. “Our hope is that entrepreneurial businesses graduating from the space will continue to thrive in downtown Flint, locating their businesses to surrounding buildings and commercial spaces.”

David Ollila, president and chief innovation officer of Skypoint says the highlight of the renovation will be the introduction of 100K Ideas, a “one-stop-shop” from concept to commercialization for those in the startup process, which was modeled after a similar concept he founded at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Olila adds that 100K Ideas will offer a full-spectrum of services to companies and individuals with a product, software, service, or social venture at any stage of the business cycle, including idea validation, concept ideation, product development, prototyping, capitalization, market development, operations management, and business formation.

“From local university students gaining real job experience in their field by assisting inventors with bringing products from concept to market, to providing aspiring entrepreneurs in the community with access to workshops, competitions, boot camps and demo days through our partnership with U of M Flint,” says Phi Hagerman, CEO of Skypoint Ventures. “With the success David achieved at Invent@NMU, we are eager to see the impact the Ferris Wheel will have across Flint.”

Located at 615 S. Saginaw, the newly dedicated Ferris Building will be comprised of co-working space, a conference center, and retail service area to meet the needs of entrepreneurs of all levels.