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Local company reaps benefits of new Michigan Now! program

Vimala Anishetty of Plymouth Township said she's "happy, excited and a little bit scared" as she and business partner, Dennis Karl, begin their own startup company.

However, the venture will be made much easier for Anishetty and Karl after Michigan Now! named their company, Environmental Compliance Office, Inc., the first recipient of a program designed to attract and retain startup and out-of-state established businesses in growth industries.

Soon, Anishetty will be traveling to her own 2,000-square-foot, fourth-floor office in the Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center area, rent-free for three years.

"This is huge for us," said Anishetty, who for 15 years was a principle environmental engineer specializing in regulatory policy at Ford Motor Co. "Dennis and I bring intellectual property, brain power, to the company. Our biggest investment would have been office space, and to get it at a reduced rate through the Michigan Now! program has dramatically increased our chances to succeed.

"We will get three years free base rent, and pick up the utilities," she said. "And it gives us the opportunity to have access to other Michigan Now! members and network with bankers, lawyers and other resources that are very valuable to a startup."

The office space is being donated by the Farbman Group, operator of the Fisher Building, which designed the Michigan Now! program.

"Our goal is to create an overall environment and a strong enough bench for companies that have solid leads and can add jobs in this economy, focusing in areas such as technology, environmental technology and others that play in and around our natural resources and alternative energy," said David Farbman, co-president of the Farbman Group. "We want to encourage other landlords and partners to come together because within the business community we should take it upon ourselves to boost Wayne County businesses, help create new businesses in Wayne County and in Michigan, as a whole.

"The old way of doing business is no longer working for Michigan and business owners have the power to make a positive impact," he added.

ECO will provide environmental engineering services to companies, mainly manufacturing, that are required to achieve and maintain compliance with environmental safety laws and regulations.

"Michigan is one of the most stringent states when it comes to environmental regulations," said Anishetty, president of ECO, who holds a Ph.D. in environmental and industrial health sciences from the University of Michigan. "Big companies, like Ford, have dedicated staff for environmental enforcement. Small- and medium-sized companies don't have that kind of staff to monitor compliance. Regulations are constantly changing, and failing to meet compliance could result in expensive fines, or force a company into bankruptcy."

Anishetty said the office space will not only give ECO financial relief for three years, but also instant credibility.

"Companies that entertain the thought of hiring us will see we have the office space, which dramatically increases our credibility," Anishetty said. "And being in the historic Fisher Building ... I feel that's where the industrial revolution for Michigan and Detroit began."

ECO revenues for 2007-08 fiscal year are projected in excess of $1.2 million. Anishetty said she hopes to add five people a year to the staff.

tbruscato@hometownlife.com | (734) 459-2700

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Originally published August 9, 2007

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Vimala Anishetty of Plymouth Township owns Environmental Compliance Office, Inc., the first recipient of a program designed to attract and retain start-up and out-of-state established businesses in growth industries.

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