ANN ARBOR (WWJ) -- Ann Arbor Spark is expanding both of its business incubators to make room for more entrepreneurs who need space and services.
As part of the expansion, Spark Central in downtown Ann Arbor will add 2,500 square feet to its existing space, and Spark East in downtown Ypsilanti will convert one of its large conference rooms to co-working space for its clients.
Officials said Spark Central is currently at full capacity, while Spark East is at 88 percent capacity.
"The seeds of growth that Ann Arbor Spark planted when it opened these business accelerators are bearing fruit," said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor Spark president and CEO. "The fact that the demand for business accelerator services is at an all-time high shows that the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem is strong. Not only are more entrepreneurs choosing to grow their business here, they know that there are organizations like Ann Arbor Spark that are eager to help them do so."
Spark Central's expansion will function as a transition between incubator space and leased office space. This expanded space is designed to accommodate "stage two" entrepreneurs, or those that need space for four or more full-time employees and are likely to "graduate" from Spark Central within the next year.
"The expansion of Spark Central fills a gap between the space currently offered through the incubator and space available on the private market," Krutko said. "Start-ups need a little more time and room to grow than what we can easily accommodate at the current Spark Central."
The expansion at Spark East is a result of new tenants and expanded operations. Reconfiguring a large, existing room will create a private space where tenants can collaborate internally and conduct client business. Repurposing this existing space allows Spark East the ability to continue to host community groups and Spark-sponsored events.
"Increased engagement with Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College has been successful in attracting student entrepreneurs to Spark East," said Krutko. "Two student companies are currently being incubated at the facility, and a third student company recently completed the Ann Arbor Spark Entrepreneur Boot Camp. We also recently had a student company from Northern Michigan University choose to locate at Spark East."
Business accelerator services available through Ann Arbor Spark are designed to help innovative technology start-ups by shortening the time required to attract capital, customers and other resources. In addition to incubator space, Ann Arbor Spar offers access to pre-seed and microloan funding, help with finding and identifying talent, entrepreneur education and opportunities for networking.
Ann Arbor Spark identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from start-ups to large organizations. Ann Arbor Spark collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, Washtenaw County Michigan Works, the City of Ann Arbor, Bank of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. For more information, call (734) 761-9317 or visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.
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