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Entrepreneur?…Explore the ‘Underground’

By: Karrie Beck

I have grown up in Port Huron all my life. After stepping foot in the new space beneath the recently restored Sperry’s Moviehouse, the Underground, I was quite literally speechless. You are greeted at the door by an aesthetic that encapsulates the spirit of downtown Port Huron. Adorning the welcome wall, a painted mural of Thomas Edison produced by students from St. Clair County Community College; modern colors blended thoughtfully with restored details from the 1923 Sperry’s store front, each carefully considered and honored in every way. Descend the stairs and your psyche soars. My first thought, “I could work here.” Open and spacious, clean and well-lit, The Underground, Port Huron’s newest incubator, is impressive by design with careful attention to detail that screams “entrepreneurial innovation playground.”

What is an incubator work space?

An incubator is for a start-up business what a spark plug is for a car engine. Affordable work and co-work space, complete with amenities and the necessary support to move a business to the next level. Whether it’s an entrepreneur looking to get their business off the ground, or a seasoned business looking to market, hire, and grow – an incubator is the catalyst to get it there. In need of flexible work space or an area that can accommodate a large group? Perhaps you need a quaint office setting for privacy and proprietary information? Incubators = ultimate focus! Best part? The incubator programs offer professional business training with mentoring support to ensure success. In every sense of the word, an incubator is where businesses are nurtured to grow. With a business incubator, you and your business are not alone.

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Port Huron’s first full-service incubator: The Underground

Picture a well-stocked office with everything you would ever need at your fingertips: high-speed Internet, white boards, conference rooms-complete with Polycom 2 Conference phones, and Smart 4K presentation TV’s. They even provide an international business address and a full kitchen. Their tag line reads, “Start here. Climb Up. We bring new ideas and companies to the surface.” According to Quentin Bishop, Director of Business Attraction for the Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County, “The Underground represents an entrepreneurial proving ground for the creators, innovators, small-business owners, creatives – those engaged with creating an environment where ideas and strategies are developed for the market.”

He recently took me on a tour of the impressive 5,000 square-foot space beneath the iconic Sperry’s building. Here, he explained the numerous offerings for businesses following an Incubator application approval:

♦  Hand-picked advisory board for each client

♦  Metrics to measure your progress

♦  Internship programs from Baker College and St. Clair County Community College

♦  Access to Lawrence Technological University’s collaboratory

♦  Eligibility to apply for Automation Alley’s 7 C’s Program

♦  Assistance with finding funding and customers

♦  Entrepreneurial and business training

♦  Access to The Underground conference areas & databases

♦  Business Counseling

Pictured left to right, Quentin Bishop, Director of Business Attraction EDA, Kevin Daniel, Gro-Hoop

To connect and learn more about the opportunities available at the Underground, click here.

One business in particular, Gro-Hoop, is an example of the many benefits offered through available programs. Pictured left is Emerge Fund winner, Kevin Daniel of Gro-Hoop. He won $5,000.00 and is growing his business through the Underground Incubation program. The Entrepreneurial Emerge Fund provides capital for consultants, business plans and website support, or for filing a patent.

I encourage you to take a moment and think about the benefits the Underground provides our area. How do we encourage businesses to flock to our area? How can we capitalize on the pioneering bright minds and ideas of those who currently reside in St. Clair County? The Underground: A fresh, and innovative approach to bring growth and prosperity.

Are you looking to grow a business? In need of a workable office space-free from the perpetual distractions of a home office or coffee house? This just may be the answer you’re looking for. For more information visit their website: The Underground        

The Underground

301 Huron Ave. (Beneath Sperry’s Moviehouse)

Port Huron, MI 48060

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