Michigan eLibrary Offers Free Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

As the recession continues to recede in Michigan and entrepreneurial culture takes root, businesses now have a new set of free tools to help create a competitive advantage.

The State Library of Michigan; Gale, the Farmington Hills, MI-based publisher of research and reference resources that is part of Cengage Learning; and CIVICTechnologies, an analytics and market research provider, have teamed up to provide comprehensive online business resources to Michigan residents in an effort to foster entrepreneurship. Offered through the government-run Michigan eLibrary, the state has funded the project through the next three years though it may be renewed after that time.

Jim Draper, Gale’s vice president and general manager, says the company is “delighted” to be a part of what he calls Governor Rick Snyder’s economic gardening initiative. Gale has a longstanding relationship with the Michigan eLibrary, and the company worked with the state to identify business resources that would be particularly useful to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

Now available at no cost to Michigan residents are three databases. The first, “Demographics Now: Business and People,” contains extensive business and demographic information that can be used to generate sales leads and mailing lists; assess business viability; analyze location, population trends, and business plans; and find potential funders. The second, “Business Insights: Global,” is what Draper describes as “probably the richest collection of its kind in the world,” with data on public and private companies that includes case studies, statistical data sources, news articles, academic journals, and reference materials. And third, there’s also a library of various legal forms that is continuously updated to reflect state law and includes a law digest, legal Q&As, and an attorney directory.

Draper says Gale has been building these databases for years and has recently embarked on software improvements to “make it easy to interrogate the database in support of business decision-making.” The company is also making available its some of its online reference materials, like an encyclopedia of global brands and business directories covering companies in Mexico and Canada. (To access the business resources on the Michigan ELibrary site, click here.)

One more software upgrade: Michigan residents need only to log in from anywhere in the state to access the materials. The system’s authentication software is based on the geographic location of the computer accessing the database, so no library cards or credit cards are needed.

“We’ve tried to remove all impediments to access,” Draper adds.

Trending on Xconomy