City of Dowagiac partners with Mno-Bmasden on business incubator service

DOWAGIAC — A Dowagiac business group is teaming up with the city of Dowagiac in hopes of cultivating new, local businesses.

The Dowagiac City Council approved the acceptance of a request for proposal from Mno-Bmadsen, the economic development wing of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Monday.

Mno-Bmadsen proposed to partner with the city on a business incubator service and authorized the city manager to submit a grant to the Economic Development Administration to provide facilities for the services.

“We tried to ramp up and have an innovative strategy to bring results to our community,” Said Mno-Bmadsen President and CEO Troy Clay. “Through that effort and vision, the Pokagon Band was looking at its long-term space needs and evaluated how they can impact this region. Give it to the city of Dowagiac, they really epitomize a very collaborative, forward-thinking group of elected officials. They want to do everything they can to attract investment and grow jobs.”

According to a memo sent to the city council by City Manager Kevin Anderson, if the grant is approved, the Dowagiac Business Partnership Center would be built on the City-owned lot next to the James E. Snow Professional Building.

“The building is proposed to be the new home of Mno-Bmadsen, along with other tribal offices,” Anderson wrote. “There is also proposed space to house business incubators. Sometimes, these incubators are also called accelerators because they allow new, small businesses to be housed in a low-cost space where the new business can grow without having to balance a heavy overhead cost.”

Mno-Bmadsen-owned Seven Generations Architecture & Engineering would be responsible for the building’s design. According to Clay, Chi Ishobak, a Native Community Development Financial Institution that provides tribal members with affordable access to capital and credit, plans to move into the building if the grant is approved.

“I never do anything unless I really believe in it,” Clay said. “If grants get approved, we’ll work with the city on designs through Seven Generations. We’ll put together an epicenter of business attraction and development for this region. We believe in the vision, and we have an extraordinary partnership with the city, so we don’t see how we can’t be approved.”

Anderson estimates the building could be funded at of rate of 80 percent with the EDA grant and potential other funding. When the dust settles, Clay hopes the proposed building will lead to a new era of business in the Dowagiac community.

“With technology, we will be a digital hub to provide access to resources,” Clay said. “We can sit down with entrepreneurs, brainstorm,and help to guide them in the right direction. We’re baking businesses for this community. The whole idea is to provide job growth and private sector investment. It’s going to be an exciting opportunity that we really believe in.”

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