MARQUETTE - Marquette is one of the best communities in the state at attracting and keeping small businesses, according to a new study by the University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business.
Marquette and eight other communities around the state earned high marks for "attracting and retaining entrepreneurial firms"
The study, conducted by iLabs, UM-Dearborn's Center for Innovation Research, focused on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan's regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation.
Brian Shuman, left, tests a wireless antenna used to transmit video from a POV.1 camera unit at the V.I.O. Inc. company in Marquette.
"Obviously I think its great for Marquette and Marquette's outlying community," Mayor John Kivela said. "I think it speaks volumes about what's been done in this area over the last 10 to 15 years as far as creating a desirable place to live."
Kivela said Marquette has a history of fostering small businesses that have grown over the years. He listed Pioneer Surgical Technology and V.I.O. Inc. as examples.
"We can't come up with creative ideas for starting businesses," Kivela said. "But we can help try to create an environment where people want to live and raise their families and I think we've done that."
According to Tim Davis, director of iLabs, the study used quantitative numbers from publicly available data points, such as existing reports the city had or data at the state level.
"In addition to that we have some qualitative research where we actually talked to city managers, economic development practitioners, township supervisors to learn what are the things that cities and townships and villages across the state are investing in to encourage small business growth," Davis said.
He said 52 communities took part in the study this year, the third consecutive year the study has been done.
As part of its data collecting process, the college offers an online interface where cities can log in, enter data and receive a feedback report about its efforts to promote business.
Davis praised Marquette and other communities such as Midland, Rochester Hills, Sterling Heights and Wixom for leveraging their resources and assets to create an environment for entrepreneurs.
He said Marquette recognized "that it's an outstanding small town to live in. It's been rated that way by a number of publications and they've leveraged that to attract younger people who can work remotely from the city to work anywhere in the country."
He also said Marquette has encouraged retiree entrepreneurs to rejoin the work force and has partnered with other organizations, such as Northern Michigan University on projects like the WiMax network.
Kivela said the distinction was even more significant, given the state's economic status.
"There's development happening here. It's not happening anywhere else in the state right now," he said. "There are a lot of indicators that point to this area as still holding on and being vibrant and with the recession looking like it's bottomed out, we only go up from here."