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Lean Rocket Lab Awarded Grant to Expand Small Business Support Hub in Jackson County and Beyond


Jackson, MI – Lean Rocket Lab, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, startups & small businesses in Jackson, Michigan, has been named one of 27 Small Business Support Hubs across the State of Michigan. With its’ partners Lenawee Now, Hillsdale EDP & the MI Small Business Development Center, Lean Rocket Lab has been awarded a $1.4 million grant over a 3-year period from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to expand its LOCAL program in Jackson County and into Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties.

The grant, awarded through the MEDC and the American Rescue Plan Act, will allow Lean Rocket Lab to significantly expand its LOCAL program and support to small businesses throughout the region. The program will focus on three key areas:

  • Fellows: Expanding Lean Rocket Lab's existing Fellows program in Jackson County, which provides comprehensive business coaching, workshops, and networking opportunities to help small businesses grow and thrive.

  • Technical Assistance: Launching a new Fast Track to Lending program that will connect small businesses with lenders and help them access capital quickly and efficiently. Primarily through the partnership with American 1 Credit Union and its $5 million dollar loan fund created to support small businesses in our region.

  • Regional Expansion: Partnering with Hillsdale EDP, Lenawee Now, Small Business Development Center, and American 1 Credit Union to bring Lean Rocket Lab's successful model to Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties.

This initiative is expected to have a significant impact on our region's economy. The grant includes $400,000 for direct grants to eligible small businesses served through the program. These grant funds will be awarded through a competitive process to assist eligible local small businesses to cover the costs of technical assistance and professional services to achieve lending readiness.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This grant will enable us to expand our services and provide comprehensive resources and support to the area’s small businesses. We are committed to supporting the growth of small businesses in South Central Michigan and this grant will help us to achieve that goal,”  said Brandon Marken, CEO of Lean Rocket Lab

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy, supporting sustainable growth with resources originating from homegrown communities.” Stated Martha Fuerstenau, President & CEO of American 1 Credit Union. “Supporting the Lean Rocket LOCAL Program with our resources not only continues to create financial wellness in our communities but also positively impacts all three of our organizational stakeholders: our community, our employees, and our members. We’re excited to see these initiatives reach a broader audience with the purpose of uplifting local entrepreneurs and the economy.”

“These 27 entrepreneurial hubs across the state will shore up our small business ecosystem, providing economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs and small businesses with the support they need to keep growing and expanding right here in Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer.

“Michigan is committed to bolstering our entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting the small businesses that drive our economy, as well as the trusted and expert partner network that serve them, across the state,” said Amy Rencher, MEDC Senior Vice President of Small Business Services. “By leveraging federal dollars, the Small Business Support Hubs will help us expand and improve resources across the state, as well as raise the national profile of the strength of our entrepreneurial community.”

Local small businesses are encouraged to apply. The application can be found at

About Lean Rocket Lab

Lean Rocket Lab is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses to grow and thrive. Through its comprehensive programs and services, Lean Rocket Lab provides entrepreneurs with the tools, resources, and support they need to succeed.

About Lenawee Now

Lenawee Now is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership dedicated to driving economic opportunity throughout Lenawee County. Through a variety of programs and services, Lenawee Now supports business expansion, talent development, and access to funding for businesses at all stages of growth. Serving as a key partner in this grant initiative, Lenawee Now leverages its strong network and resources to ensure the successful implementation of Lean Rocket Lab's expanded Small Business Support Hub in Lenawee County.

About Hillsdale EDP

The Hillsdale County Economic Development Partnership (Hillsdale EDP) is a non-profit, investor-governed organization committed to fostering economic growth and prosperity throughout Hillsdale County. Through strategic initiatives, collaborative partnerships, and a dedication to providing valuable resources and support, Hillsdale EDP empowers businesses to thrive, attracts new investments, and creates a vibrant economic environment for the entire community.

As a key partner in this grant initiative, Hillsdale EDP leverages its extensive knowledge of the local business landscape, its strong network of community partnerships, and its commitment to supporting entrepreneurs to ensure the successful implementation of Lean Rocket Lab's expanded Small Business Support Hub in Hillsdale County.

About the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI SBDC)

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI SBDC) is a statewide network of experts dedicated to helping Michigan businesses launch, grow, transition, and innovate. MI SBDC provides free and confidential consulting, training, and market research to entrepreneurs and existing business owners across the state. Through its commitment to personalized guidance and access to valuable resources, MI SBDC plays a crucial role in fostering a thriving small business ecosystem in Michigan. As a partner in this grant initiative, MI SBDC will leverage its extensive network and expertise to support the success of Lean Rocket Lab's expanded Small Business Support Hub and empower small businesses in Jackson, Hillsdale, and Lenawee counties to overcome challenges and achieve their strategic goals.

About American 1 Credit Union

American 1 Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution established in 1950, serving over 64,000 members in five mid-Michigan counties. American 1 is committed to providing personalized financial services and building strong relationships with its members. With a focus on community engagement and financial education, American 1 actively supports initiatives that empower individuals and promote economic growth in the region.


As a partner in this grant initiative, American 1 Credit Union leverages its financial expertise and lending resources to provide valuable support to small businesses through the Fast Track to Lending program. American 1's commitment to financial inclusion and its dedication to small business success will be instrumental in ensuring the program's effectiveness and impact in Jackson, Hillsdale, and Lenawee counties.

For more information and to apply, please click the link below. 


Sierra Sibson

Member Services Director

Lean Rocket Lab


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