Detroit Electric car brand scores microloan

The future of the automobile got a little boost earlier this week when Detroit Electric received financing from the Michigan Microloan Fund Program.

The Brighton-based start-up joined Ypsilanti's Ergun Technology and Ann Arbor-based Local Orbit in splitting $140,000 in microloans. The microloans help new economy-based start-ups push forward product development and commercialization.

Detroit Electric is the oldest electric car brand in the U.S., getting its start in the early 20th Century. It went dormant until a few years ago, when it was revived by a Chinese firm to make electric cars. This microloan will help Detroit Electric's efforts to establish and grow its current two-man office into a world headquarters and technical center that employs hundreds of people.

"We're trying to get started here in the U.S.," says Don Graunstadt, CEO of Detroit Electric's North American operations. "Cash is really important, but more important is the endorsement. The government did three months worth of due diligence on us."

Own is the principal product for Ergun Technology. Own connects cash registers to the Internet, providing store owners real-time remote access to their transactions. The 4-person firm plans to use its loans to complete Beta testing of its product and begin marketing it to coffee shops across the state.

Local Orbit is creating a web platform that simplifies the process of buying food directly from local farmers for restaurants, institutions, and consumers.

The state-created Michigan Microloan Fund Program provides seed capital to growing new economy start-ups. The $1.4 million program, which is run by Ann Arbor SPARK, became instantly popular because of the lack of financing available in the wake of the financial crisis.

Ann Arbor SPARK and Don Graunstadt, CEO of Detroit Electric's North American Operations
Writer: Jon Zemke
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