November 2, 2012 – The city of Midland has been identified as one of eight top performing communities in Michigan at fostering entrepreneurial growth and economic development in a study by researchers at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research (iLabs).  Midland was recognized as a five-star community – the top rating possible. 


“This recognition speaks to the fact that we work diligently to bring new business to Midland and encourage our existing businesses to grow and thrive,” said Midland Mayor Maureen Donker.  “We realize the importance of providing a pro business environment, which helps not only our community, but the entire state as well.”


Begun in 2007, the annual eCities research project uses data supplied by the participants as well as other public records to assemble a six-factor, 32-item index of entrepreneurial activity, looking at such factors as clustering, incentives, growth, policies, community, and education.  In addition to performing well in the numerical portions of eCities 2012, the eight top performing communities have been recognized for programs that aid entrepreneurial growth. 


“The top performing communities understand what small businesses need to be successful,” said Tim Davis, director of iLabs. “The communities communicate with their business owners and provide connections to broader resources and insight on trends.”


In Midland, that means working hard to produce an ecosystem that supports start ups and small businesses as well as larger corporations.  The City of Midland understands different needs across that spectrum, pro-actively providing value-added services when needed and streamlining other processes when possible.  A proactive example is the partnership struck between the City of Midland and the County of Midland in the 1990’s to fund Midland Tomorrow, the countywide economic development agency. 


“At Midland Tomorrow, our role is to not only to work directly with the companies in Midland to be successful, but to also partner with other agencies like the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, Mid Michigan Innovation Center, and others, to build out a pro-business ecosystem for companies to thrive,” said Carol Miller, Economic Development Manager for Midland Tomorrow.  “While many communities have incubators, our goal is really for ‘Midland’ to be an incubator, for companies that are here or others that may consider a Midland location.  That supportive ecosystem will ensure our growth over the next 20 years.”


Other top communities include the cities of Troy, Grand Rapids, Grand Blanc, Imlay, and Sterling Heights plus Meridian Charter Township. An additional 46 communities across the state have also been recognized as five- and four-star performers.


The eCities research surveyed 114 communities from 40 counties in Michigan that are home to 34 percent of Michigan residents and nearly half of its college graduates. More than 125,000 entrepreneurs with over $3 billion in self-employed income call the participating communities home.  These communities also had more than $1.5 billion in 2011 commercial construction, and more than 70 percent share services with other communities.


The eCities project assists local communities by identifying best practices and methods that they can implement to aid in job growth, economic diversification, and development of entrepreneurs.


This year’s communities were recognized at UM-Dearborn on October 30 at a ceremony that included video profiles of each of the top performers.  Midland’s video can be found on YouTube, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY-EnqA9FpY&feature=share&list=PLsglDkxBH6G5_Z6cGBOazPPezf3-EgXZS. 


Support for eCities 2012 is provided in part by the DTE Energy Foundation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and UM-Dearborn’s College of Business.