Saturday, July 7, 2012

Guest Blog: LEAP, and a Schor for State Rep Campaign Update

Now that it is July, the Ingham County Board of Commissioners has gone to its summer schedule. For three months - July, August, September - the Commission meets the last two weeks of the month. As such, we did not meet this last week. I asked the folks over at LEAP to provide a guest blog, and they graciously accepted. I have had the privilege to work with Bob Trezise, Jeff Smith, and Ken Szymusiak. LEAP has done amazing things, and I am excited for all their work on behalf of Lansing and the region.

First, before the guest blog, a Schor for State Representative campaign update...we have about 30 days left until the election. Voting has already begun (absentee ballots) and things are going great! We have been able to talk to voters in a variety of settings, and I am confident that we will be able to accomplish all of our goals in the campaign plan. Then, it's up to the voters. There are still opportunities every day to knock doors, make phone calls, help in the campaign office, contribute, and volunteer in any other way. Go to to sign up, or email me at I appreciate everyone's support. We are in the home stretch!

Now, for the LEAP guest blog...

LEAP – New Economy Division

2012 is off to an incredibly busy start for the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). The organization has undertaken a complete restructuring over the last 6 months and an incredible amount has been accomplished. One of the major points of development has revolved around the development of LEAP’s two core missions: business development and new economy development (entrepreneurship, placemaking, and talent).

As Co-Directors of LEAP’s New Economy Division, we want to highlight the current status of LEAP’s activities with regard to creating and expanding the culture of entrepreneurship and set the stage for what is still to come.
Our goal is to build a platform for the growth of new startup businesses within Greater Lansing, and provide an environment and culture that encourages more of our citizens to become their own CEO, and leverage the existing talents in the region. Since the start of 2012 we have been positioning a number of great things under LEAP for us to provide specific services these include:

• Management of the Lansing Regional SmartZone (including management of the Technology Innovation Center and the Hatch student incubator in conjunction with the City of East Lansing and MSU eNet),
• Development of a rapid prototyping program utilizing our 3D printer,
• Management of the State of Michigan Business Accelerator Fund, and
• Continued growth of the incredible events such the Next Bright Idea Business Plan Competition and Lansing Startup Weekend.

Even with all of these actives, it is a tall order to provide “hands on” assistance to all of the different entrepreneurs in our community. However, what many don’t realize is that our region is home to scores of service providers and resources that can be absolutely critical to the success of a would be entrepreneur. Often times, whether it is from an incorrect referral, or another anomaly, our startup companies are not always finding access to the help they need. Clearly this is a critical component to our region becoming a hotbed of entrepreneurial growth.

This is where LEAP will be playing a critical role in helping to unify our entrepreneurial service providers and create a means of communication so that our companies can traverse the galaxy of funding opportunities, programs, and available spaces to ultimately create a lasting and sustainable business in our community that will create jobs and wealth for our citizens.

To accomplish this task we hosted, for the first time this month, our Regional Innovation Network, where representatives from all of our local service agencies met to discuss how we can work together to ensure proper referrals and support one another with the business clients we are working with. These providers included business support service, private and public business incubator programs, our local higher educational institutions, and micro finance providers. At this meeting we unveiled one of our key components to our plan which is a software system that will allow our participating service providers and business incubators to upload information about their clients. This will provide a more cohesive network of services and will allow LEAP and other participants to view and collect the necessary info about these businesses so that we can ensure that no business is ever left behind, and that our referrals and requests for assistance never go unanswered. This is going to be a tremendous step forward in the creation of Greater Lansing’s base for startup activity. Needless to say everyone is excited about this program and we are looking forward to rolling out the program over the course of the summer. There are many ways that entrepreneurs find their way to a particular support provider in our region and certainly LEAP will not always be the first contact, but our goal is to provide a “front door “ to all of the other providers so that we can ensure that every client has 100% of the relevant resource available to them.

This is just one of many exciting developments we are undertaking and we look forward to a Summer and Fall filled with exciting announcements as we build our programming to support our incredible business community.

We want to thank Andy for letting us participate in his blog and we appreciate the support that he and the rest of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners have provided to LEAP this year and in the past.

2012 is a LEAP year and we are looking forward to many accomplishments!
Please contact us if we can ever be of assistance at or .

Also make sure to visit to learn about the New Economy Division as well as all of the other activities LEAP is undertaking.


Ken Szymusiak & Jeff Smith
Co-Directors, New Economy Division

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