The Detroit News
By Wesley Lowery
September 2, 2010
Auburn Hills — A small business program piloted in Michigan last year is being rolled out nationwide, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Wednesday.
The federal government launched Commerce Connect in Plymouth to help small businesses cut through bureaucratic red tape and get hands-on help on issues, including intellectual property protection, access to capital and exporting.
The program, which Locke called a “one-stop shop” for small companies, partners businesses with specialists who act as case workers to advise on a variety of issues. Some 90 small Michigan businesses have tapped into the program.
“By any measure this pilot has been successful,” said Locke, while visiting the headquarters of ALTe, a technology company here. “Small businesses don’t have time to navigate government agencies so what we’re doing is bringing those agencies and solutions directly to them.”
As it transitions from a pilot to a permanent program, Commerce Connect is expanding its format. The services also will be available via a call center as well as on a revamped website. The Michigan office will move into permanent space in Pontiac.
“For us it has been a wonderful and worthwhile experience,” said Terry Palmer, chief operating officer of TRI-TEC, an engineering and project management firm based in Beverly Hills. Palmer said the firm has increased sales by $250,000 because of Commerce Connect.
The announcement of the program’s expansion came during the first leg of Locke’s two-stop trip to Michigan to meet with local business owners.
During the morning, Locke was joined by U.S. Rep. Gary Peters at ALTe, which plans to use hybrid technology to install electric powertrain systems in the place of V-8 engines in 10.2 million trucks, SUVs and taxis.