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Help at Hand for Michigan's Businesses

As economic upheaval and transition have hit America's traditional manufacturing heartland in recent years, the state of Michigan has positioned itself to take advantage of a pro-business environment and rich talent base — particularly in the fields of engineering and technology.

The local economy is regaining steam: some 60,000 jobs are expected to be added this year, and unemployment has fallen below 8 percent for the first time since 2008. There's a long way to go, but the state seems, finally, to be heading in the right direction.

Since it was created in 1999, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has acted as a bridge between the state government and local business communities with the aim of encouraging economic growth.

The public-private partnership is the state's lead agency for promoting job creation, and provides roughly $150 million a year in incentives and assistance, and another $100 million in loan support to small and midsized businesses. Over the past 15 years, the MEDC — and the state's network of support hubs — has helped more than 16,000 companies.

One of the first businesses the MEDC worked with was the moving company Two Men and A Truck, started by two Lansing brothers as a way to earn extra money while in high school.

Over the past 20 years, the company has grown from a single, 1967 pickup truck, into the largest franchised local movers in the United States, with more than 200 locations worldwide and a fleet of 1,500 vehicles. The MEDC calls the company "a true Michigan success story."

Announcing a recent expansion of their corporate headquarters, set to create more than 100 jobs, co-founder and CEO Brig Sorber said, "Our roots are here and they are deep. With every passing day, the business climate in Michigan grows stronger and stronger, and I'm happy our company is part of that progress."

Indicative of the range of businesses — particularly in advanced technologies — that have been springing up across the state, the MEDC recently assisted DeNovo Sciences, a medical technology start-up.

DeNovo, based at the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center in Plymouth, is developing instruments for the detection of cancer cells and was the winner of the 2011 Accelerate Michigan Innovation competition. In 2012, the MEDC worked with the 21st Century Jobs Fund to help DeNovo secure an investment from the Michigan Pre-Seed Investment Fund.

Co-founder Priya Gogoi told website Southeast Michigan start-up that "when people from different ethnic and geographic backgrounds put their minds and souls into work, miracles happen. Michigan entrepreneurs have the hunger and the drive to fill the gap that the auto industry has left."

And regardless of whether a company is established or brand new, it can expect the same consistent support and commitment to success from the MEDC, which remains dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes create jobs in Michigan.

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