Rocketman Ventures LLC
Article by: michigansbc.org.
Photos provided by Alma Blackburn.
Alma Blackburn is a woman with a vision. Through her company Rocketman Ventures, she is determined to enhance the Roscommon County region with a new and exciting accommodation option for locals and visitors.
After permanently moving up north to her family’s cabin in 2020, Alma transferred her business operations for her company, Elevate Marketing, to Higgins Lake—and she never looked back. She finds that the area provides a great sense of community and less hustle and bustle for her family than Southeast Michigan.
Once settled in, Alma found herself regularly driving by a hilly area of town that was the site of a derelict building. She envisioned a beautiful log cabin lodge perfectly situated there instead and recognized that the community would benefit from the old structure being removed and a new thriving business in its place. Alma felt that she could be the one to bring this vision to reality and inspire other new businesses to flourish.
Guided by her life-long love of log cabins and fondness for the local area, Alma solidified her plan by creating Rocketman Ventures—and the company has steadily moved toward the goal of that beautiful building on the hill. This summer, for example, a major piece of the puzzle was put into place when she received a $101,420 Blight Elimination Grant from the Michigan Department of Treasury and the State Land Bank Authority. With that funding, the old building currently on the site can be demolished and lodge construction can begin. “In five years, I see a beautiful eco-friendly modern log cabin lodge that embraces the natural environment of the Higgins Lake area and fosters connection and serenity. I see a great gathering place where people can also work remotely, rejuvenate and enjoy time with family and friends for generations to come,” said Alma.
The lodge will offer eight to ten individual units and include a grand room with a large fireplace for gatherings and conferences. Visitors, tourists, snowmobilers and locals looking for a “staycation” will enjoy a turnkey experience in line with modern expectations for easy access to lodging. Alma is aware of one of the biggest challenges she faces is the seasonal nature of the hospitality industry in northern Michigan. She is excited to bring her creativity to bear in providing year-round experiences to attract guests, for example through partnerships with cross country ski providers.
This will ensure that the lodge will be a thriving hub any time of year for all types of accommodation seekers.
Through Alma’s extensive marketing experience, her degree in Integrated Marketing from Eastern Michigan University, and her 25-plus years in the automotive marketing field, she knows what drives a business to succeed: “Data is what pushes a business to move in one direction or another, and to be successful I have the business resources to tap into through the Michigan Small Business Development Center (Michigan SBDC) and the Uplift Michigan™ Lake Huron Region Program I attended.” The training program was facilitated by Uplift Michigan Business Coach Kristin Gapske. Alma found the program inspiring, as she got to know and understand other cohort members’ challenges and success stories. She explained that the program was structured in a manner that allowed all cohort members to share their own experiences, challenges and solutions. After completing the eight-week program, Alma said, “I couldn’t believe what I didn’t know. It just makes you stronger to realize that and learn from it. And it was fun too!”
The Uplift Michigan program puts an important emphasis on researching, gathering and diving into business resources appropriate to each business owner’s industry. Alma was inspired to contact librarians for market research help, work on business planning with Michigan SBDC Business Consultant Mike Nunneley, and research tourism data for her area through a Rural Tourism Assessment program led by the Roscommon Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State University Extension.
Activated by her vision, Alma is an inspiration to other entrepreneurs: “Know that nothing will be handed to you, be willing to do the work, and embrace all the wonderful programs out there for small business owners. Seek them out!”
Pictured below is a commercial building that is Alma’s inspiration for the new build.
Uplift Michigan is a strategic movement designed to ensure equitable access for all diverse entrepreneurs across Michigan. For more information, visit michigansbc.org.