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Michigan congressman from across the state, political aisle meet for “Startup America Day”

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

Three Michigan congressmen met with entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids for “Startup America Day” Thursday. It’s a chance for entrepreneurs to tell lawmakers how they can better support startup companies.

Congressman Gary Peters (D-Detroit) co-chairs the House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re creating an environment that entrepreneurs with a good idea have an opportunity to take that idea, capitalize on it and run as long and as hard as they can with it,” Peters said.

Peters asked Grand Rapids-based Start Garden to host the event. Start Garden is a capital venture fund founded last year by entrepreneur and Amway heir Rick DeVos.

“It really is an example of the innovation that’s occurring here in West Michigan,” Peters said of the fund.

So far the fund has invested in more than $4 million into more than 150 project ideas or businesses.

Some of the people behind those ideas talked to lawmakers about their businesses and what the federal government could do to help.

“It’s dicey,” Start Garden’s marketing director Paul Moore said, “Obviously you have to look into each context, but usually it boils down to reducing (government) involvement on some level.”

For example, tougher regulations on the banking industry have affected some of the startup companies’ ability to get loans. That’s a problem Start Garden has been able to help some companies solve through the funding process.

Congressmen Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids) joined Peters in the hour-long discussion.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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