Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MTEC SmartZone celebrates grand opening of Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center

By William Frantz*

HOUGHTON -- After receiving a $3 million grant in the fall of 2008, which resulted in a whirlwind of construction activity, the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC) unveiled the grand opening of the newly remodeled Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center on Tuesday, July 13, 2010.

MTEC, a private nonprofit corporation, manages SmartZone, which is an economic development and high-tech business incubator serving Houghton and Hancock. In association with Michigan Tech University, MTEC and SmartZone celebrated the completion of the renovations with several guest speakers, including Glenn Mroz, president of Michigan Tech.

Glenn Mroz, Michigan Tech University president, addresses the audience at the July 13, 2010, grand opening of the newly remodeled Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center. (Photo © William Frantz)

"Clearly lots of people had to come together in order to make this happen," said Mroz. He added that having collaboration between SmartZone and Michigan Tech was vital in order to make the new facility become a reality.

Some of the other speakers included Carlton Crothers, CEO of SmartZone, and Scott MacInnes, Houghton city manager.

"We would not have been able to do this without support of Michigan Tech," MacInnes noted, adding that the entire downtown community would benefit from the new facelift of the building, which formerly housed the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO).

This display of photos of the Lakeshore Center, including (far right) historic photos from the Michigan Tech Archives, shows the changes in the building over the years. (Photo © William Frantz)

Entering the newly remodeled Lakeshore Center, guests will notice higher ceilings and a more modern architectural design scheme. SmartZone has also added a new conference room, fully equipped with the latest technologies. Employees can also use the new shower facilities.

Sue Haralson, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District administrator, is pleased to have a whole new office, with large windows, rather than her former tiny cubicle.

In her new office in the Lakeshore Center, Sue Haralson, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District administrator, stands next to a former cubicle wall, now used to display a map of the Bete Grise South Preserve, which the District helped purchase for public access and environmental protection, and brochures about their other conservation efforts. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The enhanced Lakeshore Center has potential to create at least 50 new jobs in downtown Houghton. One such company that is already taking advantage of the new facility is Ford Motor Company.

"The building's lighting and overall appeal is much nicer," said Russ Louks, manager of the Ford office. Ford is one of the main anchor tenants of the Lakeshore Center.

MTEC also secured a $500,000 grant, which will support a 20-year lease on the building.

For more information about the grant obtained by MTEC and its associates please check out the Oct. 18, 2008, article, "MTEC SmartZone receives funds for former UPPCO building," on Keweenaw Now.

*Editor's Note: Guest reporter William Frantz is a student in David Clanaugh's journalism class at Michigan Tech this summer. Students in the class are writing articles about the local community for Keweenaw Now.

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