Velocity center aims to bring more defense, homeland security, advanced manufacturing jobs to Macomb County

Posted on October 18, 2011

A partnership involving Macomb County, the city of Sterling Heights and Oakland University hopes to spur economic growth and create jobs by targeting three key industries.

Velocity, an initiative and collaboration center launched today in Sterling Heights, aims to become the region’s new center for business incubation and economic development, targeting defense, homeland security and advanced manufacturing.

“This is, above all, about jobs,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said in a statement. “Not minimum-wage jobs but professional, technical and manufacturing jobs that support families and help stabilize our traditionally volatile economy here in Southeast Michigan.”

Velocity is in the Sterling Heights SmartZone, a 6-square-mile defense industry hub between Mound Road and Van Dyke. It is the same facility that houses the Sterling Heights Economic Development Department; the Macomb-OU INCubator, the business accelerator for OU; as well as several other developing businesses.

The INCubator will become the support center for startup companies in the target industries and will offer research, training and consulting services through the Pawley Lean Institute and the OU school of engineering and computer science’s center for robotics and unmanned intelligent systems, Velocity officials said.

“Sterling Heights is the heart of the new defense corridor, and Velocity will help ensure that Macomb County remains competitive and a hub for the engineering of land-based military apparatus,” Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte said in a statement.

The INCubator offers 25 rentable client offices and cubicles totaling 35,400 square feet. There also are rentable meeting areas and an innovation lab. The INCubator also can connect clients to an investment review board that helps them present their ideas to investors, banks and government agencies, among others.

Macomb County, with support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., will provide resources and direct assistance for the defense-oriented companies doing business within the defense corridor and throughout the region. The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center also will provide tools to assist the area’s small businesses.

By Ellen Mitchell, Crain’s Detroit