SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority


The SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) supports high-technology entrepreneurs and businesses. The SmartZone captures increased property tax dollars and reinvests that money back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Grand Rapids.

Conquer Accelerator - Applications Now Open!

The SmartZone LDFA has helped sponsor the Conquer Accelerator program for its second year in Grand Rapids. This is an intensive, ten-week program that provides companies with a $20,000 investment, one-on-one mentorship, and access to working space and additional resources. It's aimed at companies who are

  • In the earlier stages of product or service development,
  • In the high-tech and high-growth space, and
  • Located within the city of Grand Rapids by the start of the program

Application assistance is available to under-represented business owners through Spartan Innovations and the Michigan Small Business Development Center. For more information, or to apply, visit the Conquer Accelerator website at

Annual Activity Synopsis

Through the SmartZone we provide incubator spaces and connections to support services for high-technology startups. The Michigan Strategic Fund supports our Business Incubator Grant and we continue to use Michigan State University as our subcontractor for those services. More information about our activities is available under “Contracts” below. A full list of investments is available in the FY2020 Preliminary Financial Statements as of June 30, 2020.

The SmartZone LDFA does not have tax increment revenues which have not been expended within 5 years of their receipt. More information about tax increment financing is available in the FY2020 PA 57 Annual Report.


You can find information on the SmartZone’s meeting schedule, current board members, minutes, and past agendas at their meeting portal page.

Current Board Members

Wayman Britt

Term Ends: 12/31/2024

Lisa Freiburger

Term Ends: 12/31/2023

Hal Ostrow (Secretary)

Term Ends: 12/31/2023

Brent Case

Term Ends: 12/31/2021

Keith Brophy

Term Ends: 12/31/2021

Kristian Grant

Term Ends: 12/31/2021

Commissioner Joe Jones (Treasurer)

Term Ends: 12/31/2021

Dante Villareal (Chair)

Term Ends: 1/31/2020

Jerry Callahan

Term Ends: 12/31/2023

Jerry Kooiman

Term Ends: 12/31/2021


Documents and Links


Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The MEDC gives us the authority to operate the Grand Rapids SmartZone LDFA. See the full text of this contract here.

Holland SmartZone LDFA - Satellite District

We partner with the Holland SmartZone LDFA and Lakeshore Advantage on regional initiatives.

Start Garden, Inc.

We partner with Start Garden to provide a variety of services to high-tech entrepreneurs and businesses, including incubation, ecosystem development, 5x5 Night, and The 100.

Michigan State University

We partner with Michigan State University to provide gateway services, including the Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) program, under a grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

applied Medical Device Institute (aMDI) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU)

We support the work of aMDI in piloting a 3D additive manufacturing program and producing pre-validated FDA packaging solutions.

Spectrum Health Innovations

We support the work of Spectrum Innovations in creating new medical devices with GVSU and Kendall College of Art and Design.

West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT)

We partnered with WMCAT to open a local Cyber Range Hub and to support the West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium.

Grand Rapids Public School (GRPS)

We are partnering with GRPS to construct a state-of-the-art engineering lab at Innovation Central High School Academy of Modern Engineering.

Michigan House Creative

We partnered with Michigan House to help market the Grand Rapids entrepreneurial ecosystem at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference.



Jordan Turner