Celebrating Michigan's Entrepreneurial Spirit

By Governor Rick Snyder | February 20, 2014

Governor Rick Snyder talking about jobs.

In Michigan, when we think about famous home-grown entrepreneurs, Henry Ford is one of the first who comes to mind. After all, he helped put the world on wheels and forever changed Detroit, Michigan, the country, and the world.

Flash forward to today, and there are other famous entrepreneurs we might name -- Mike Ilitch, the father of Little Caesar's, or Dan Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans. Those are great stories of Made-in-Michigan success, but let's not forget that entrepreneurs are all around us, even if we don't know their names. They make the small businesses that are Michigan's job creation engine, and celebrating their success and spirit is what Michigan's Entrepreneur Week is all about.

Here's one name you might not know -- Linda Hundt of DeWitt, Michigan, founder of Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe. Just like Henry Ford, Linda had a dream. But hers was to make the perfect pie, not build the perfect automobile.

Back in 2002, Linda started baking and selling pies out of her home, just north of Lansing. She used locally-grown produce and sold her products at farmers markets and area restaurants. Just a few years later, she opened a pie shop in her town, took out a loan, hired bakers and other employees, and just kept growing. Last year, she expanded with a second location at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market and now has 50 part-time employees. On top of all that, she's won awards and was featured on the Food Network. (And her pies are delicious, too!)

Here's another outstanding story of Michigan's entrepreneurial spirit. E & S Apparel is a Detroit-based uniform company started by Sinom and Erin Page. The Pages have school-aged children who were outgrowing their uniforms every year. They saw a need for a company that could provide school apparel, so they got to work. They've since expanded into a new location and now provide school and medical uniforms while also helping small businesses with their marketing.

Entrepreneurs like Linda Hundt and the Pages help drive Michigan's economy forward and create new jobs. And I'm proud to say we're taking steps to help entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed. 

Take the Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative, for example. This new program helps entrepreneurs like the Pages get the financing they need to grow their businesses and create new jobs. Under that initiative and in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Huntington Bank has made a $5 million commitment for a pilot program in Detroit. Upon successful completion of the pilot program, Huntington will commit an additional $20 million to distribute through lines of credit to participating community micro lenders.

There's another program, too, that will help foster entrepreneurship in Michigan. Last year, I was proud to announce a $20 million partnership to bring the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative to Detroit to help create jobs and economic growth. The program will provide business and management education, access to capital, and business support services. It's a fantastic way to help small businesses grow and create jobs.

The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep through Michigan's history, and it's alive and well today. Let’s celebrate Michigan’s entrepreneurs, both past and present, encourage it in our youth, and keep working together to build a brighter future for our state.