Our own Mark and Mary Murray spoke about the exciting “Launch Lenawee” project they are spearheading that is patterned after the very successful Launch Detroit program sponsored by a number of other clubs in District 6400.
Mark spoke first about the Adrian Armory – the site he and Mary own and purchased one year ago. The facility – “a real feature of this community” – is 22,000 square foot, three floors and was built in 1924 and was home to the Michigan National Guard. Phase one, Mark said, was completed on the first and second floors. The next phase will focus on improvements to the lower level. Mark thanked Bob Behnke for donating three stained glass panels for the front window of the building. The school system also donated much woodwork that has been refurbished from the old McKinley School building before it was demolished that was used to build a bar.
Mark said that two full time tenants have already signed leases and that Justin Gifford from the Lenawee Visitors Bureau is assisting with this process while Mary is the official Events Manager. “Launch Lenawee is part of what Adrian Area Investment Accelerator group is attempting to do which is to get us to put some of our resources back into the community”, Mark said. They are in the process of filing for 501(c)3 status. The Armory Project is a non-profit organization and will be operated by a board of directors. Mark said he “will be looking for all sorts of continuing support from the community as well as other opportunities the Adrian Armory can be used as a real resource for Lenawee County.”
Mary reminded members of PDG Larry Wright’s presentation to our club last fall when he spoke about the successful Launch Detroit Campaign where several Downriver clubs teamed up to spearhead this program which has since been recognized as one of the top 10 programs in the world by the United Nations for its overall merit and success. Launch Detroit helps young ambitious people and entrepreneurs stay in their communities and develop their businesses through mentoring and financial assistance. This model, Mary said, fit precisely into what she and Mark envisioned for this community and the Armory will provide the space for this to happen. There is a large kitchen in the lower level, she said, and will be looking to start an incubator program with that once it is refurbished which they estimate will take $100,000 to accomplish this.
As indicated on the printed materials the Murray’s distributed - Launch Lenawee is a small business development incubator project developed to fill the need for support to small local startups that currently are not served by other means. The pillars of the program include mentoring, education programs, micro loans and networking.
What a great project this is! Mark and Mary envision many members of this very club will be able to contribute their professional expertise should they wish to serve as mentors for young entrepreneurs as the incubator project gains traction and is fully operational. Thanks folks. Looking forward to being involved! Best of luck to you both!