THE BLOG

Michigan Will Be the Startup Capital of the Midwest

08/06/2014 09:28 am ET | Updated Oct 06, 2014

By Rep. Gary Peters and Nathan Labenz, CEO of Stik.com

Earlier this year, Detroit hosted Techweek for the first time, an annual weeklong festival that brings together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts to showcase, celebrate and enable startup companies and innovators. As CEO of Stik.com, a tech startup that moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Detroit, and a Representative from the Detroit Metro area who co-chairs the House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we share a vision -- making Michigan the startup capital of the Midwest.

Michigan is already well positioned. We have world class colleges and universities; the fastest-growing venture capital community in the nation with hubs in Detroit and Grand Rapids; more engineers than any other part of the country; and the infrastructure to export not just nationally, but globally. Now we have a real chance to capitalize on these assets. As of last year, the Top 10 Metro Areas for High-Tech Startup Density did not include a single Midwestern city. While that may raise concerns about the economic future of our region, we see this as an opportunity Michigan must seize.

Fast-growing startups -- especially high-tech, information and communications companies -- are responsible for the majority of net new jobs created in our country, according to a 2013 Kauffman Foundation report. Since 2008, startups yielded an average growth of 2 million jobs in the United States. We are committed to ensuring that Michigan taps into this growth.

We will continue our efforts to raise the profile of Detroit's startup ecosystem with the second annual "Startup Day Across America" on August 5th, when dozens of Members of Congress from across the country will visit startups, incubators and accelerators in their home states. Startup Day is coordinated by the bipartisan House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which works with Members of Congress to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, remove barriers to job creation, drive our economy forward and ensure that America leads the world in new products, services and ideas.

While the best ideas produce the most competitive startups, these young companies require support from communities, educational institutions and backing from venture capital firms and other sources to grow. In addition to hearing compelling success stories, we expect Members of Congress will hear about what policymakers at all levels of government can do to help startups grow and create jobs.

Ultimately, success for any company comes down to matching talent and capital. Small businesses and startups now have a variety of sources of capital to expand and create jobs: traditional bank loans, SBA loans, state-backed loans through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), venture capital, friends or family and now crowdfunding, which is being made possible by the bipartisan JOBS Act of 2012.

Just as there are a number of factors that contribute to a vibrant startup ecosystem, there will be a wide array of stakeholders, decisions and industries that contribute to Detroit's revival. We are committed to ensuring that our growing startup community will be a fixture of creativity, innovation and job creation for decades to come.

Rep. Gary C. Peters represents Michigan's Fourteenth District. He is a Co-Chair of the bipartisan House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and serves on the Financial Services Committee.

Nathan Labenz is the Co-Founder & CEO of Stik.com, which moved their headquarters from San Francisco to Detroit with the backing of Detroit Venture Partners, and recently won top prize in AOL Founder Steve Case's Rise of the Rest startup competition.