By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry 

STERLING HEIGHTS — A collaboration center and resource for local entrepreneurs could soon take new steps to implement its own strategies for success.

During a July 19 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, Senior Economic Development Adviser Luke Bonner and other advisers detailed the results of a new strategic plan for the Velocity Center, located at 6633 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.

Bonner called the new strategic plan “very thoughtful” and said it “incorporates a strong community vision.”

April Boyle, Velocity’s senior adviser for entrepreneurship and innovation, explained some of the plan’s details.

Boyle said the strategic plan, which most immediately focuses on the next three years, took months to put together through the work of a stakeholder committee. Later, the presentation listed nine committee members, including Boyle, Bonner and Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Stacy Ziarko.

The plan gives Velocity a mission of becoming a “catalyst for culture change” in propelling innovation and growth for Macomb County’s manufacturing and technology businesses. A new vision statement calls for it to be “the center of gravity for entrepreneurship and innovation in Macomb County.”

“We wanted to create a mission and vision statement to make sure that everyone involved with the organization knew sort of what our north star was,” she said.

The plan’s guiding principles include accelerating growth, being valued and trusted, welcoming diversity in ideas and people, inspiring innovation, and becoming a “catalyst for creating collisions and collaboration.”

Strategic planning consultant Becky Davenport, from Strategiz LLC, also spoke about the plan.

Davenport said the plan architects interviewed city officials, educational partners, county businesses, and more. They also researched other business incubators and accelerators. Furthermore, the committee assessed Velocity’s strengths, challenges, opportunities, and threats — the last including items such as an economic downturn.

“It was so important, critical, to the process to understand our target market,” Davenport said. “And our focus is entrepreneurs, and that’s really startups through second-stage businesses in technology and advanced manufacturing.”

Boyle listed some audacious goals for the next 10, 15 or even 20 years, and those included things like having the building be “fully occupied and vibrant,” getting nationally recognized, and even having multiple Velocity centers.

“We have lots of work to do to get us there,” she said.

After brainstorming big goals, the committee worked on turning those into strategic initiatives, Davenport said. For instance, to get full occupancy, Velocity could start a partner membership program that provides event space, learning, and other benefits.

In the plan’s first year, Velocity hopes to complete tasks like defining its business support organization partners, creating an asset map of resources for entrepreneurs, and launching or expanding at least 10 businesses. In the second year, it hopes to use its programs to find more entrepreneurs and then grow 20-plus businesses. In the third year, it aims to build an investment ecosystem and grow at least 30 companies, Boyle said.

Davenport added that the plan includes metrics centered on events, marketing, and financials, as well as monthly tracking and quarterly reporting.

“And I think that’s really important, because, as we all know, plans are plans, and life shifts,” she said. “The pandemic really illustrated that for us.”