Gov. Rick Snyder: Ferris Wheel Grand Opening Highlights Entrepreneurial Activity in Flint

Innovation Hub will foster economic growth in Mid-Michigan

Monday, November 6, 2017

FLINT, Mich.– Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined Skypoint Ventures, city and state officials and the Flint community today for the grand opening of the Flint Ferris Wheel Innovation Center, the first entrepreneurial platform of its kind in the region. Ferris Wheel, a project spearheaded by Skypoint Ventures with critical support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is housed in downtown Flint’s newly renovated Ferris Building and supports entrepreneurs at every step of the business cycle.

“Flint’s entrepreneurial spirit is strong and this initiative will continue to help spur economic growth in the city and throughout Mid-Michigan,” Snyder said.  “By inspiring and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs, we can ensure industry and workforce development in the area continues to thrive.”

The grand opening at 615 S. Saginaw Street, featured remarks from Snyder and Calley, as well as Phil Hagerman and David Ollila of Skypoint Ventures, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official opening of the facility.    

“The Flint Ferris Wheel Innovation Center is a great example of the creativity and forward thinking that are putting Flint back on the map,” Calley said. “Giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their business ideas is the perfect way to develop talent in our region, leading to a lifetime of career success.”

Flint Ferris Wheel helps entrepreneurs at all stages of the business cycle, offering a vibrant, co-working space that features business hospitality services, including offices, conference rooms, WiFi, printers and phones. Through 100K Ideas -- a nonprofit organization started by the founders of the Ferris Wheel initiative and supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation -- innovators with a product, software, service or social venture can receive help with idea validation, concept ideation, product development, prototyping, capitalization, market development, operations management and business formation.

“At the heart of Ferris Wheel and 100K Ideas is advancement through collaboration,” said Ollila, President and Chief Innovation Officer of Skypoint Ventures. “Innovators and industry specialists continue to work together using their unique skills, ideas and resources to support innovation and spark entrepreneurism in Flint and throughout the state.”

MEDC supported the project with a $1.5 million Michigan Business Development Program grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund for 100K Ideas, as well as a $1 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant from MSF toward the building rehabilitation. Additional financing partners included Skypoint Ventures, C. S. Mott Foundation, University of Michigan-Flint, City of Flint, and the Flint Downtown Development Authority.  

“Ferris Wheel puts a new spin on the way inventors and entrepreneurs approach the startup process. We encourage all local entrepreneurs to take advantage of this ‘one-stop-shop’ that will support them from concept to commercialization,” said MEDC CEO Jeff Mason. “We’re pleased to bring this project to Flint; it is great addition to recent activities we’ve supported including the Capitol Theatre, the Health & Wellness District, the Lear Corporation expansion project at Buick City, and the Farmers Market, among others.”

Ferris Wheel’s grand opening occurs days after the organization won the National Development Council (NDC) Academy Award for innovative project financing. The prestigious award highlights dynamic community and economic development projects across the nation. 

For more information about the Flint Ferris Wheel, visit ferriswheelflint.com.

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