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Seven economic organizations moving into Kaufman Block

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Inside the newly renovated Kaufman Block building on Washington Street, economic development organizations are moving in to improve collaboration and innovation.

They are Accelerate UP, Invent@NMU, LSCP, Northern Initiatives, InvestUP, Innovate Marquette SmartZone and Northwest Michigan PTAC. In recent years, the 55,000 square foot space has been as much as 80% vacant.

“We’ve had a vision for a long time as an organization to put all the economic development organizations in the same building, there’s a lot of collaborative things that can happen. And if you look at many other organizations around the nation who are successful in economic development they have what you call an innovation hub,” said Innovate Marquette SmartZone CEO Joe Thiel.

Thiel also says for Innovate Marquette SmartZone, the collaboration aligns directly with its mission.

“It allows us to have all the resources in the same location in order to accelerate those businesses through our process. And really, we’ve been collaborating with all the economic partners in the past but it’s much more efficient to do it all in the same location.”

Not only will offices of the organizations be on-site but incubation and accelerator space for startups will be housed in the building as well. And, NMU will be present with classroom space for its College of Business. It’s an effort to improve the U.P. economy.

“I think there’s some big opportunities for the Upper Peninsula but there’s some challenges that go with those opportunities. There are 7 organizations here that have strengths and complement each other and by working together in this space there’s opportunity to tackle those challenges,” said InvestUp CEO Marty Fittante.

The seven economic development organizations will be moved into the space by the end of May.

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