‘You don’t have to leave to have a tech career’: Traverse City startup incubator receives $50K grant

What’s happening: Tech startup incubator and coworking space 20Fathoms has established itself as a vital resource for the entrepreneurs of northern lower Michigan. And the recent news of their receiving a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund validates the work that they’re doing, says Eric Roberts, Executive Director of 20Fathoms. People are recognizing the tech hub that the Traverse City area has become, he says, and the recently announced grant proves just that.

Who they are: 20Fathoms was founded in 2018 as a tech startup incubator, workspace, and tech career hub in Traverse City. The organization has so far graduated six tech companies from its startup incubator and 10 startups from the 20Fathoms HealthSpark Accelerator. Approximately 250 individuals have engaged in its tech education programming.

Eric Roberts, Executive Director of 20Fathoms. (Courtesy of 20Fathoms)“We’re trying to make sure that the talent of tomorrow, the talent that exists in our part of our state here, is inspired and can see that they can have an amazing career and stick around,” Roberts says. “You don’t have to leave our beautiful, beautiful Traverse City in order to have a tech career.”

About the grant: The $50,000 Business Incubator Program Gateway Representative grant was approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund, a partnership between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The grant requires a 1:1 match from 20Fathoms, and will help pay a portion of the salary for one or two support staff. According to the MEDC, “The initial term of the grant is six months, with the option to extend the term for up to an additional four years and allocate additional funding.”

Why it’s important: “If you plopped down into rural America in any old random town, I think it would be pretty hard to find the amount of resources as those that are available here,” Roberts says. Traverse City has an entire ecosystem of entrepreneurial support organizations, he says, namechecking TCNewTech, Northern Michigan Angels, and Newton’s Road as but a few.

“This whole experiment of bringing tech into the Traverse City area has been very successful. 20Fathoms was non-existent four years ago and today we're busting at the seams with folks who are members.”

20Fathoms is located at 10850 E. Traverse Hwy. in Traverse City.

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