By EDITH ZHOU
Capital News Service
LANSING –A new business-to-business networking program called Pure Michigan Business Connect is linking in-state companies to help them grow.
Participants can find resources to expand their supply chain, find business opportunities, access a business-to-business database and receive help such as legal, accounting and other services at little to no cost, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).
The pilot program works to attract procurement leads from both in and outside of Michigan and uses partner organizations to match these needs with potential Michigan suppliers.
Chuck Hadden, president of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said the association is providing its members’ information for the program’s database.
“We are encouraging all of our members to log into the system, update information and make sure they are informed of these opportunities,” he said.
Participating businesses don’t have to be headquartered in the state. “For example, if IBM produces some parts here in Michigan and hires people, then they are qualified to join the program,” Hadden said.
As one of the first companies that joined the pilot project, Consumers Energy made major commitments to increase its procurement spending in Michigan and put people back to work in the state.
“We signed up for the program when Gov. Rick Snyder first announced it. Our commitment was $250 million and we just doubled it to $500 million in September,” said Dan Bishop, the media relations director of Consumers Energy.
According to the company, it has awarded 383 contracts to Michigan companies through the initiative to date, including BP&R Engineering & Construction in Holland, Shively-Bouma in Jackson, Lake Winds Energy Park near Ludington, Elmers Crane and Dozer in Traverse City.
Don Knottnerus, who is a partner in BP&R Engineering, said that his company joined the program because the project gives priority toMichigan’s economic development.
“Our company’s goal is to help grow Michigan’s families since it was funded 26 years ago, and it’s good to see some companies choose to do business only with Michigan companies.”
Knottnerus’s company provides engineering and construction management services for Consumers Energy.
Bishop said that it is working with MEDC on a new aspect of the program called “Pay It Forward”, which encourages suppliers and vendors to “think Michigan first” when purchasing services and goods.
“Pure Michigan Business Connect was a natural complement to our investment plan and support for Michigan’s economic growth,” he said.
Vince Nystrom, the vice president of MEDC, said that the program will boost Michigan’s economy from different sides.
“The project helps increase companies’ access to business services, expand the supply chain and diversify opportunities within the state,” he said.
Nystrom said that MEDC is actively recruiting additional companies to partner in the initiative and to expand the types of services available.
“The program has been run as a pilot, but we expect to be launching it more aggressively around the new year,” he said.
The program website lets businesses register and get more instructions at www.puremichiganb2b.com.
By EDITH ZHOU