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Michigan Women Forward hosting virtual pitch competition

Posted on: Jan 15th 2021


Michigan Women Forward will host a virtual WomanUp & Pitch Competition for female entrepreneurs living in West Michigan later this month. Michigan Women Forward (MWF), a statewide organization focused on creating an inclusive economy so all women and girls can reach their full potential, said Monday that it will host the virtual WomanUp & Pitch Competition for West Michigan on Jan. 28. The event will feature eight women entrepreneurs from this region presenting their business plans to a panel of business leaders and an audience of community leaders, business owners and potential investors. Get more details here. 

Kent County Small Business Recovery Program

Posted on: Nov 10th 2020


The COVID-19 crisis is devastating the fabric of our local business community. Kent County is built on the backbone of entrepreneurship and small business, and the Kent County Small Business Recovery Program is aimed at delivering short–term financial support to small businesses with the goal of supporting a strong economic recovery. Check it out here. 

Entrepreneurs launch digital advertising firm

Posted on: Oct 24th 2020


Digital Kairoi, a digital advertising firm focused on providing value to brands and agencies in West Michigan, is now open in Grand Rapids. Owners Chad Jansen and Timm Peterson have successfully grown their new business throughout the COVID-19 shutdown to its official launch this October. The two are now working out of Work-Space by MVP, 4085 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids. The owners expect to bring on additional team members in the coming months. Digital Kairoi specializes in partnerships with marketers who do not have the capacity or expertise to handle digital advertising in-house. Digital Kairoi shoulders the load with data-driven processes to design, launch and manage successful digital campaigns. The group’s specialties include research and planning of campaigns, strategy development, campaign management and measurement, and consulting. Read the full article here

'Postcards from Grand Rapids': Tourism campaign invites friends, family to visit West Michigan

Posted on: Sep 04th 2020


Experience Grand Rapids launched Postcards from Grand Rapids Wednesday, a campaign encouraging residents to invite friends and family to visit West Michigan. Starting September 2 through October 31, community members can send free, personalized postcards in the mail through Experience Grand Rapids’ website. Experience Grand Rapids has partnered with area hotels to offer overnight giveaways. Participants will be eligible to enter to win free overnight hotel accommodations. "Nearly 50% of travelers who come to the area are visiting friends and family," says Kate Lieto, Director of Marketing for Experience Grand Rapids. "West Michigan continues to be an ideal travel destination, and now we’re calling on locals to invite their loved ones and to help boost our local economy." Read the full article here. 

SBDC launches Entrepreneur’s Toolbox series

Posted on: Aug 20th 2020


The West Michigan office of the Michigan Small Business Development Center developed a new educational training program for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The organization said it will launch the Entrepreneur’s Toolbox, a collection of practical information and resources that small business owners can use to quickly improve their business operations, with a free virtual how-to on Tuesday that will be the first in a series of webinars. The content is geared toward entrepreneurs starting, growing and/or scaling their business. The one-hour weekly webinars will demonstrate specific actions business owners or their employees can implement immediately. “It is so important for entrepreneurs to have the right tools for their business to survive and be successful during this time,” said Ed Garner, regional director of the West Michigan Small Business Development Center. “We wanted to make sure that we were part of the solution.” Read the full article here. 

Local Eats: Embrace the comfort food at Forty Acres Soul Kitchen in Grand Rapids

Posted on: Jul 30th 2020


Forty Acres Soul Kitchen is gradually getting back to business after a four-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant, located at 1059 Wealthy St. SE, specializes in southern-style soul food. Several vegan sides are also offered on the growing menu. Co-owners Darel Ross and Lewis Williams opened the restaurant in April 2018 with the intention of bringing some missing flavor to the bustling Wealthy Street Business District. The pair met through LINC UP, a community nonprofit, in which they are still actively involved. Ross and Williams hoped the restaurant would allow them “to show ownership and leadership” within a community that was once viewed as being crime-riddled and unsafe, according to Williams. “We wanted to create an ambiance and do soul food, the food we were raised on, in a nice atmosphere,” Williams recalled. Read the full article here.

The Right Place to distribute millions in small business grants

Posted on: Jul 22nd 2020


West Michigan nonprofit The Right Place, Inc., is one of 15 economic development organizations tapped to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and received the third-highest allocation from the state to accomplish that goal. The application period for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Restart Program opened last week. Three local organizations, Lakeshore Advantage, The Right Place and Southwest Michigan First, received funding to be distributed as grants to facilitate the program. “When making the decisions of how much to put into each area, we focused on the population, the amount of small businesses, the impact COVID has had on those small businesses and also the number of businesses located in disadvantaged areas,” MEDC Chief Business Development Officer and Executive Vice President Josh Hundt told News 8. Lakeshore Advantage received $3.5 million and Southwest Michigan First more than $7.5 million. The Right Place received more than $9.5 million. That allocation is the third-highest amount appropriated by the MEDC as part of a $100 million investment in the restart program, which was drawn from federal CARES Act funding. Oakland County and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation received the top two appropriations, more than $11 million and more than $15.5 million respectively. “These funds will be critical to supporting these small businesses and making sure that, hopefully, we can continue the vibrancy that we’ve had here in West Michigan and support those small businesses as we move forward,” The Right Place Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Tim Mroz told News 8. Read the full article here.

FOAM-iT develops line of equipment to halt spread of COVID-19

Posted on: Jul 16th 2020


A local provider of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting equipment developed a new product line of equipment designed to stop the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. Grand Rapids-based FOAM-iT said it released a new line of disinfecting and sanitizing products specifically geared toward combating COVID-19 in workplaces such as office buildings, aircraft interiors, distribution centers, health care facilities and more. FOAM-iT’s new products are meant to ensure employees feel confident returning to work, and consumers feel safe as the economy reopens. “To serve our world’s urgent need for frequent and appropriate sanitation processes, our equipment will contribute to a safe and healthy work environment. Our desire is to help beat this virus,” said Scott Naylor, director of business development for FOAM-iT. “Our products are industry specific, customizable to the application and size of the location, and will save time while increasing productivity." Read the full article here.

West Michigan Works! expands access to veteran job club

Posted on: Jul 10th 2020


The region’s workforce development agency is moving its Veterans Networking Job Club (VNJC) to a virtual platform and casting a wider net. West Michigan Works! said it expanded the VNJC event to include the seven-county region serviced by the workforce development agency. Veterans in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties, as well as employers and organizations offering veteran-specific resources in those counties, are invited to participate. The VNJC event recently shifted to a virtual platform to increase access and limit the spread of the COVID-19. The job club occurs on the third Thursday of each month from 10-11 a.m. on the Microsoft Teams platform. Attendees don’t need to have Teams to participate. Participants with internet access can connect by video on a computer or smartphone. Participants without internet access can join by phone. The event is designed to help veterans connect with veteran-focused community organizations, other veterans and employers. Read the full article here: