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      New business looks to grow success

      With winter settling in, a brand new business has what people need to keep gardening as the snow flies. Northern Hydroponics opened in November in Marquette Township on US-41.

      "It's an alternative gardening solution," explained 23-year-old Ryan Hammack.

      Hammack started working with plants inside his home two years ago.

      "Some window gardening, urban gardening, just kind of played around with that," he recalled.

      Now Hammack wants to share his experiences with customers. He studied environmental sustainability at NMU and thought hydroponics would be popular with U.P. residents. He combined forces with his friend and finance major, 22-year-old Stosh Wasik.

      "Kind of the best of both worlds," Hammack said of the partnership.

      After they started working together in late August, they sought help from Michigan Works on their biggest task of making a business plan. Al Hendra of Michigan Works said that is the biggest aspect of starting a business that their agency can help with.

      "It's kind of like your roadmap to the beginning of success," said Hendra.

      The Small Business and Technology Development Center at Michigan Works assists more than just new ventures.

      "Working with some businesses that have been established for a good number of years and expanding their operations," Hendra explained.

      For Hammack and Wasik, that assistance was key to get them where they are today.

      "(It) started snowballing, it got bigger and bigger, and before we knew it, we were at the banks," said Wasik.

      Wasik said securing a loan was the toughest part, especially after one bank executive didn't seem to give the young entrepreneurs a chance. But Wasik, who is set to graduate this month from NMU, feels that everyone else has been supportive of their new venture.

      "They're glad to see that we're succeeding and doing something for the community," he said.

      Hydroponics is a growing method that Wasik encourages people to check out.

      "It's not as hard as a lot of people think it is; it can be very simple and cheap and an extremely effective way to grow," he said.