Marquette outdoor innovation hub gets more money -- $3 million

What's happening: A $3 million performance-based grant will help establish an outdoor recreation and product innovation space in Marquette. Called the ShopHouse Park Technology and Innovation Hub, the space will be located between Northern Michigan University and Lake Superior. Funding comes from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Combining two major industries: Michigan is a leader in outdoor recreation activities like hiking, biking and personal water sports like paddle boarding, with many of these opportunities taking place in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. The state also is a leader in mobility industries, thanks to strong ties to the automobile industry. Projects worked on at this hub will get both industries together to develop and test new technologies that will help support outdoor activities like off-roading and van life. 

What they're saying: “By aligning its natural resources and assets with this economic moment, Michigan has a chance to lead the nation and establish the U.P. and Michigan as the center of excellence in outdoor recreation and mobility innovation,” said developer David Ollila. "This is an opportunity to drive stronger connections between our peninsulas and provide the U.P. an asset that contributes to our collective economy In a way we have not done since Ford was operating plants in the U.P.”

Marketing and education combined: Other groups involved in the project will include Michigan Tech University, MICHauto, 100k Ideas, Invest UP and the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. The collaborations will make sure that private funding sources will be available alongside state and federal grant opportunities. Working with the universities will also tap into local programs to find and retain staff to keep talent in the Upper Peninsula. 

Using local expertise: Executives across the state are bullish on Ollila for his prior work with ski and snowboard hybrid items and American-made production sources. His work was recognized by former U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2012 “Insourcing American Jobs” summit. 

“Ollila is a legend in the outdoor recreation industry, and I couldn’t be more excited to see him creating a place where Michigan can leverage the authentic Upper Peninsula outdoor experience while nurturing outdoor entrepreneurs and fostering collaboration with the state’s full suite of design, innovation and production expertise,” said Brad Garmon, executive director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.