November 11, 2023 - 10:51 am
20Fathoms awarded $7.3 million in grant funding from the State of Michigan and the U.S. Economic Development Administration
20Fathoms is pleased to announce that the organization has secured two significant grants to support the growth of tech startups and small businesses in Northwest Michigan. This includes $3.3 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Support Hubs program and $4 million in grants and matching funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant.
“These two grants are a huge win for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and communities in Northwest Michigan,” said Eric Roberts, Executive Director of 20Fathoms. “There are a lot of people who have been working hard to make this region a place where you can establish and scale a business. The investment we’re receiving from both the state and federal level not only validates the work we’ve done, but also shows their trust in our ability to scale the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our part of the state. The entire region will benefit from this funding. Startups are the lifeblood of economic development – they create good jobs and vibrant, innovative communities.”
The new funding will allow 20Fathoms to implement a 3-year strategic growth plan that will significantly expand startup and small business support services to Northwest Michigan. This will include:
- Expanding the organization’s service area from the Grand Traverse region to include all of Northwest Michigan including Petoskey, Charlevoix, Cadillac, and Manistee.
- Establishing 20Fathoms as the central Small Business Support Hub (SBSH) in Northwest Michigan, providing all 10 counties in the region with expanded resources to support the success of small business owners.
- New opportunities for entrepreneurs and startup leaders to connect with critical resources – including funding and talent – that drives business success and growth.
- New events and programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and tech professionals of all ages intended to generate inspiration and ideas that build a pipeline of new businesses and careers in our region.
- Extended startup support programming including education and mentorship for early-stage entrepreneurs.
- Coordinated partnerships with local organizations to provide resources and services to startups and small business owners in all industries, stages, and regional locations. These partnerships include the Odawa Economic Development Management Inc., Venture North, Small Business Development Center Northwest Region, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, Traverse Connect, Northwestern Michigan College, Michigan Tech University, Northern Michigan Angels, and TCNewTech.
Ways to get involved and support tech entrepreneurship in Northwest Michigan
As the regional hub for tech entrepreneurship and innovation, 20Fathoms will be leveraging local talent and resources to quickly scale programs and support more individuals.
“Very soon, we will be growing our team,” said Eric. “We’re also expanding our network of mentors, investors, volunteers, and professional service providers; building new partnerships; and looking to donors and sponsors to provide matching gifts. There’s truly never been a better time to get involved with the startup community here in the region and we have so many opportunities available!”
Those interested in learning more about new opportunities at 20Fathoms should complete the interest form. 20Fathoms is especially looking for people with a background in startups, business, and technology or an enthusiasm for these areas.
About the Michigan Small Business Support Hubs grant
Michigan’s Small Business Support Hubs program is an investment in the state’s small business ecosystem by providing funding to entrepreneurial hubs for operations, programming, and direct support to small businesses.
“Michigan is committed to bolstering our entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting the small businesses that drive our economy, as well as a trusted partner like 20Fathoms that serves the Traverse City region,” said Amy Rencher, MEDC Senior Vice President of Small Business Services. “By leveraging federal dollars, designating 20Fathoms as a Small Business Support Hub will help us expand and improve resources across the region while raising the national profile of the strength of our entrepreneurial community.”
“Since I started in my role at 20Fathoms, the MEDC has been true partners and advocates for this part of the state,” said Eric. “I want to thank them for their trust and investment in our region, the confidence they’ve shown in our work, and their diligence implementing the Small Business Support Hub program.”
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant
The Build to Scale grant was designed to support technology entrepreneurs, catalyze innovation, and fuel economic growth by increasing inclusive access to entrepreneurial assistance and startup capital.
20Fathoms worked with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to apply for the Build to Scale grant as part of CORI’s 2023 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to develop inclusive tech economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.
“Securing Build to Scale funding is an immense accomplishment — a successful application is the product of significant time, skill, dedication, and belief. That’s what makes it so rewarding to see the communities that take part in the Rural Innovation Initiative achieve this recognition,” said Matt Dunne, Founder and Executive Director of CORI. “We’ve been proud to grow this program over the past five years, and we continue to be inspired by how these rural leaders pursue opportunities like Build to Scale that have the power to transform their local and regional economies. The future is brighter because of their commitment to serve their communities.”
“The folks at CORI are incredibly passionate advocates for rural economic development, specifically tech entrepreneurship in small towns like Traverse City,” said Eric. “We are grateful for their ongoing partnership, the national leadership and advocacy that they provide, and the support their ongoing support for our work in Northwest Michigan.”