Lansing Regional SmartZone Launches $300,000 Request for Proposals (RFP) to Boost Tech Economy and Expand SmartZone Programming

Initiative aims to propel technological innovation by reducing the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs to use tech tools and create their own new products

EAST LANSING, Mich.—(Dec. 11, 2023)— The Lansing Regional SmartZone today announced the launch of a $300,000 Request for Proposals (RFP) aimed at securing services and programs to catalyze the growth of the tech economy in the Greater Lansing region over the next three years. The initiative seeks highly qualified candidates to submit proposals to enhance the SmartZone ecosystem and propel technological innovation by reducing the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs to use tech tools as well as create their own new products.

“The initiative behind this RFP marks a significant step toward solidifying Lansing’s position as a hub for technological innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Lansing Regional SmartZoneExecutive Director Harrison Leffel-Jones. “The RFP acknowledges the power of collaboration in the tech economy by encouraging joint ventures and partnerships.”

The Lansing Regional SmartZone, which is overseen by the Joint LDFA Board of Lansing and East Lansing, will adhere to the following deadlines:

  • Written RFP questions are due Jan. 17, 2024 at 5 p.m. EST.
  • Final response to RFP questions will be posted on Jan. 31, 2024.
  • Applications are due March 1, 2024 at 5 p.m. EST.

The primary focus of this RFP revolves around two key programs:

  • Low-Code/No-Code Training
  • Venture Studio Acceleration

In the Low-Code/No-Code Training program, the selected candidate delivers comprehensive training on low-code and no-code development platforms. This initiative aims to empower entrepreneurs by equipping them with the skills to create functional applications without extensive coding knowledge. The anticipated outcome is an increase in both the number and ease of creating first versions of tech products, fostering innovation and product development within the SmartZone.     

“By investing in low-code and no-code training, we are democratizing technology, ensuring that aspiring entrepreneurs have the tools to bring their ideas to life,” said Joint LDFA Board Member Kris Klein. “This initiative aligns with our commitment to inclusivity and fostering a thriving tech ecosystem in the Lansing region.”     

For the Venture Studio Acceleration program, the selected candidate offers expert guidance and mentorship to assist entrepreneurs in accelerating their product ideas. This includes defining product roadmaps and making informed technical decisions. The program will provide wrap-around services, including fractional CEOs, CFOs/Accounting, CTOs/Development, HR, and Legal support. The ultimate goal is to take ideas from the ecosystem and supercharge their scalability.

“Venture Studio Acceleration could be a game-changer for our region,” said Charles Hasemann, who serves as vice chair of the Joint LDFA Board and as a Program Committee member. “By providing entrepreneurs with the mentorship and support they need, we are not just nurturing ideas; we are catalyzing the development of scalable, market-ready products that will contribute to the economic growth of our community.”

A secondary program focuses on tech product creation:

  • Tech Product Buildout/Consultation: Tech product creation on behalf of Lansing Regional SmartZone clients at a cost that is subsidized to a level of attainability for non-tech or tech-adjacent founders with the goal of building frameworks and Minimum Viable Products to achieve first sales to enable further product development.

“Our commitment to supporting founders goes beyond education and mentorship,” said Leffel-Jones. “The Tech Product Buildout/Consultation program is a tangible way we are helping turn ideas into market-ready products, ensuring that the Lansing region remains at the forefront of technological innovation.”

The Joint LDFA Board encourages all qualified candidates to submit their proposals. The lead respondent may be a non-profit organization, industry group, academic or research institution, private company, or venture capitalist, so long as it meets the requirements of Public Act 57 of 2018. While the lead respondent must be a single organization, the Lansing Regional SmartZone encourages joint ventures and partnerships, since there are multiple elements to the proposal that require specific areas of expertise. Applicants with joint ventures and partnerships plans will be scored more favorably.   

The Lansing Regional SmartZone will fund the initiative using its tax increment revenues. Specifically, the Lansing Regional SmartZone plans to make an investment in the program of up to $100,000 per year. 

For more information about the RFP and submission guidelines, and to view the full RFP, go here. Any formal requests for clarification, questions, or additional information regarding this solicitation must be submitted via the form linked on this site or submitted to no later than 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 17, 2024.


The Lansing Regional SmartZone (LRSZ) drives growth in the Greater Lansing region’s high-tech sector by funding local partners to deliver exceptional entrepreneurial support services. The LRSZ is a partnership between Ingham County, City of Lansing, City of East Lansing, Lansing Community College, East Lansing Public Schools, Lansing School District, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Michigan State University Research Foundation, Michigan State University Innovation Center, and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). A dynamic organization of leaders from all backgrounds and business sectors, the LRSZ has locations in downtown East Lansing at the Technology Innovation Center (TIC) and in Lansing at the MSU Health Park. To learn more, visit