The thaw is coming to the economic freeze of the Great Recession, prompting downtown Muskegon promoters to take advantage of the improving economy with a new marketing push.
The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Muskegon Now have launched an updated program to promote development of buildings in the central business district and the location of businesses into the heart of the central city.
The two organizations are kicking off their new efforts to sell downtown Muskegon to retail, office and commercial companies and real estate developers with a downtown tour Thursday. It is only one of several efforts being made to jump-start the redevelopment of the former Muskegon Mall property along West Western Avenue from Third to Terrace streets.
In addition, a chamber-led effort is looking at marketing a new building on a vacant lot at Second Street and West Western Avenue in attempts to attract street-level retailers and a second-level office user. Meanwhile, efforts continue to put together a serious plan for the relocation of the city of Muskegon’s Farmer’s Market to a central-downtown site, chamber officials said.
Nonprofit Muskegon Festival Group has been selected by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County to produce a new summer festival on Muskegon County’s Heritage Landing over the Fourth of July.
The new festival organization will create a music-based event stressing community involvement through volunteers, strong sponsorship relationships, an initial four- to six-day event over the Fourth of July in 2013, community fireworks on the Fourth of July, potentially multiple entertainment stages and a new music booking agency with relationships to national and international acts, organizers said.
The more than 50-year-old Art in the Park will remain an event of the community foundation but be separate from the Muskegon Festival Group event. The Hackley Park art and crafts fair will be produced in 2013 in conjunction with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, foundation officials said.
As the holiday season quickly approaches, many service orientated businesses are seeking to hire seasonal help. To meet this need, Muskegon Area First, Michigan Works! Muskegon-Oceana, in partnership with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, are hosting a Ready NOW! event targeting restaurant and retail industries.
Ready NOW! is an employability program designed to connect employers with job-ready candidates. Job seekers must complete a series of employer-facilitated workshops to gain free admittance to the Ready NOW! Job Fair and are guaranteed at least two interviews with employers in the retail or restaurant industries.
The workshops will take place on October 25th. Lunch will be provided. Topics to be covered include customer service, personal accountability (worth ethic, attitude, attendance and reliability), communication, and resume development and writing – all delivered from an employer’s perspective. Upon completion of the workshops, job seekers will be invited to attend the Ready NOW! Job Fair on October 30th. All job seekers admitted to the Job Fair will have the opportunity to meet with a minimum of two employers that are actively hiring. Employers that have already committed to the Ready NOW! Job Fair includes Sears, T.J. Maxx, Old Navy, Best Buy, and Aeropostal.
Ready NOW! events that have taken place in Grand Rapids and Holland have been very successful in matching employers who are hiring with qualified candidates.
Space is limited to 200 job seekers and registration is required by October 22nd. Job seekers can register for this event at www.miworksmo.org/readynow. Detailed information will be provided at time of registration. Employers who would like to take advantage of this opportunity to find qualified talent should call 231-760-1971.
A program offering low-interest loans to small businesses lent a record amount in fiscal year 2012.
David Miller, who is business development manager for Lakeshore 504 community development corporation, said it made $11,934,000 in loans to small businesses from Holland to as far north as Traverse City in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The previous record, $11,341,000, was set in 2003. The loans are for long-term assets, like buildings and long-lasting equipment, Miller said.
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Patricia VerDuin of Grand Haven has been selected as this year’s Lakeshore ATHENA Award recipient. The announcement was made today at the Lakeshore ATHENA Award luncheon celebration at Trillium Events, Spring Lake | Ferrysburg. VerDuin is the Executive Director of Ready for School, a Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation initiative.
Holly Johnson, chairperson for the Lakeshore ATHENA Award program, said 16 nominee applications were considered for the award. “We are honored to have so many women from our region that make significant contributions in the communities where they live and work.
The Lakeshore ATHENA Award program is a collaboration of The Chamber Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.
Johnson noted that along with many of the other nominee’s; Patricia exceeded the requirements to be considered for an ATHENA Award. The award was created to raise up one outstanding role model each year who exhibits exceptional leadership skills, who has achieved excellence in their own business or profession, has served the community in a meaningful way, has assisted other women in reaching their full leadership potential and who have made regional contributions. The recipient is chosen by a selection committee composed of representatives from the participating Chambers and community business leaders.
VerDuin holds an Associates Paralegal Degree, a BA in Criminal Justice from Grand Valley State University, A Masters in Management from Aquinas College and is working on her Masters in Divinity at Western Theological Seminary. Pat retired in 2008 as the Director of the 20th Circuit Court’s Juvenile Service and Adult Drug Treatment Court Program in Ottawa County. She has leveraged support from the Kellogg Foundation to make Ready for School a reality in Ottawa County. In its first year, the program has served 9,683 local children through its programs and services and provided tuition assistance for more than 80 children. Pat has been involved in West Michigan Strategic Alliance’s Talent 2025 and First Steps in Kent County, and was honored this year for her leadership in early childhood education by Michigan Nightlight.
Previous Lakeshore ATHENA Award recipients include 2011, Candace Dugan Grand Valley Statue University; 2010, Elizabeth Rolinski Vice President of Operations Advanced Energy, Johnson Controls, 2009, Blanche Smith former Mayor of Muskegon; 2008, Judith Hayner Executive Director for the Muskegon Museum of Art; 2007, Nancy Miller, former dean of social sciences at Hope College, Holland; 2006, Nancy McCarthy, former director/president of Hackley Visiting Services and Hospice, Muskegon; and 2005, Nancy Crandall, former mayor of Norton Shores.
Michigan's more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline -- combined with all of its rivers, streams and inland lakes -- hold the potential to wash the rust off the state.
In neighboring Wisconsin and Ontario, that potential is starting to be realized for this "blue economy," where water is the fuel for economic development.
For now, Michigan trails both.
Muskegon’s deep-water channel and harbor (top photo and above) off Lake Michigan can accommodate oceangoing freighters.
Leading the initial efforts in the state are Muskegon County on the west side and Macomb County on the east -- without much help from Washington or Lansing and relatively little coordination between the counties, which are separated by a three-hour trip on I-96.
"However, by raising the level of what we are doing, we are hoping the state agencies as well as the coordinating federal agencies will start to take notice," said Gerry Santoro, program manager at the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.
Both Santoro and Cindy Larson, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, hope to realize the promise of what a 2012 Brookings Institution report on the Great Lakes described as a "$500 billion-and-growing global water technology business sector."
This new economic model includes everything from the controversial notion of selling water to thirsty states and even overseas, to repairing aging water and sewer systems, to finding new sources of energy in the water and algae of lakes and rivers, to building new tourism and recreation centers -- along with the research needed to tap these revenue streams.
The 8th annual ATHENA Awards will honor a host of Lakeshore women professionals presented Oct. 9 by the region’s three chambers of commerce.
Sixteen women have been nominated for the regional recognition that is a “celebration of excellence,” according to event promoters with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, The Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg and the West Coast Chamber of Commerce in the Holland-Zeeland area.
Five of the nominees are from the Muskegon area, including Stacy Reierson, director of the Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl Association in Grand Haven; Renae Hesselink, vice president of sustainability for Nichols in Norton Shores; Mary Boyd, vice president of Mercy Health in Muskegon; Stephanie Herder, customer services coordinator for the Grand Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO of the North Ottawa Community Health System.
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Muskegon, Michigan – The e-merge Entrepreneur Network of West Michigan and its partner organizations are pleased to announce eFest! 2012. The eFest! 2012 schedule includes a series of eight workshops and events for entrepreneurs that will be held at various locations along the West Michigan Lakeshore from October 24 – November 14.
Some events focus on general business topics such as marketing or state resources for small business, while others are designed for targeted groups such as food entrepreneurs or musicians who are interested in best practices to help them start and grow their business in a specific industry. Each event is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network, learn from experts, and interact with their peers.
According to e-merge Program Manager Suzanne Velarde, a number of organizations are working together to plan and host this year’s eFest! events. “We hope that eFest! will build awareness of the many resources available to people who are thinking about being business owners, people in the process of starting a business, or people who already own and run a small business in our region,” she said. “Some of these events have been offered in the past, and some are being offered for the first time. Promoting them all under the eFest! name allows us to showcase a sampling of what is regularly available, and demonstrates how a number of organizations are collaborating to offer programs and assistance to West Michigan entrepreneurs.”
Wednesday, October 24 Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business
This free course covers practical applications of marketing concepts designed to grow a small business. Market analysis and research, target marketing, and assessing competitors will be discussed. Several examples of effective hands-on marketing tools will also be reviewed. Hosted by the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (Mi-SBTDC). 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Location: MAREC Center, Muskegon. FREE! Register online at www.mi-sbtdc.org/events.
Friday, October 26 State Resources for Small Business
Join the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce for their October “Business for Breakfast” as they welcome Michigan Economic Development President/CEO Michael Finney, who will review the state’s resources for entrepreneurs. Hosted by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Good Temps and Waddell & Reed Financial Advisors. 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Location: Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor. $16/Chamber members, $26 non-members. Register online at www.muskegon.org/events.
Saturday, October 27 “Entrée-preneurship”: A Business Workshop for Food Entrepreneurs
This workshop is for entrepreneurs who want to transform their hobby food product into a successful business. Attendees will get advice from successful food entrepreneurs, and learn about food regulations, distribution options and how to get their product into a Made in Michigan food program. The agenda also includes a food demonstration from Meijer chef Ray Sierengowski, and a networking “food fair” where attendees can display and sell their product, and get feedback from their peers. Hosted by the e-merge Entrepreneur Network of West Michigan, and sponsored by Hazekamp’s Premiere Foods. 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Location: Dogwood Center, Fremont. $25 per person. Register online at www.muskegon.org/events.
Sunday, November 4 “Entrepremusic”: A Business Workshop for Musicians
This is a workshop for musicians who want to learn about best practices to help them establish and grow their career as a professional musician. Topics include pitching your music to a booking agent, recording your work, pros and cons of hiring a manager, copyright law and today’s technology, and “living the good life as a local musician”. The workshop will close with a networking reception for presenters and attendees (cash bar available). Hosted by the e-merge Entrepreneur Network of West Michigan. 1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Location: Seven Steps Up Event Center, Spring Lake. $25 per person. Register online at www.muskegon.org/events.
Wednesday, November 7 BOOST! Muskegon Elevator Pitch Competition
This pitch event will have 2 divisions; one for high school/college students and one for the public. Participants will have 2 minutes to present their business idea. The top 3 finishers in the student category will win $1,000/$750/$500 respectively. Winners of the open category will have the opportunity to present to the Blue Water Angels investment group at a private dinner. This event will also include an entrepreneur resource expo, a presentation on angel investing, and a networking reception. Hosted by the e-merge Entrepreneur Network of West Michigan. Sponsored by Klever Innovations, Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC), Start Garden, Baker College and Muskegon Community College. 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Location: Muskegon Community College Overbrook Theater. Free to participate and attend - public invited! Register online at www.mmic.us.
Monday, November 12 Meet the Lender
This event is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs to meet a variety of loan officers and representatives from local banks and lending institutions. Attendees can practice their business pitch, present their business plan to lender reps, and receive valuable feedback. Hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and sponsored by the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (Mi-SBTDC), Lakeshore 504, Grand Valley State University, and the Seidman College of Business. 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Location: MAREC Center, Muskegon. Free. Register online at www.misbtdc.org/events.
Tuesday, November 13 BOOST! West Shore Elevator Pitch Competition
The region’s second pitch competition will have one open category for participants of all ages. Participants will have 2 minutes to present their business idea. Winners of this competition will have the opportunity to present their full plan to the Blue Water Angels investment group at a private dinner. Boost! West Shore will also include an entrepreneur resource and service provider expo, a presentation by representatives of Start Garden, and a networking reception. Hosted by West Shore Community College and the e-merge Entrepreneur Network of West Michigan. Sponsored by Klever Innovations, Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC), Start Garden, Baker College and Muskegon Community College. 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Location - West Shore Community College, Ludington. Free to participate and attend - public invited! Register online at www.mmic.us.
Wednesday, November 14 Fundamentals of Financial Management
Attendees will be introduced to basic accounting concepts and will learn how to apply financial information effectively. Key documents such as cash flow statements, profit and loss statements and balance sheets will be explained using specific business examples. Hosted by the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (Mi-SBTDC). 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Location: MAREC Center, Muskegon. Free. Register online at www.misbtdc.org/events.
Muskegon’s recognition as the 23rd best yachting town in the nation by Yachting magazine is a “natural progression” in the community’s improved image as a travel destination.
Recreational boating on Muskegon Lake includes power boats, sailboats, fishing boats and kayaks.
That was the reaction of Muskegon County Community Development Director Bob Lukens to the community’s ranking by one of the oldest, most prestigious and upscale recreational boating publications.
The September issue of Yachting was as if local tourism promoters were handed their biggest Christmas gift in the September edition of the magazine, four months before the holiday.
The editors of the Rhode Island-based boating magazine selected Muskegon’s port as 23rd and among four listed in the national ranking from Michigan. Harbor Springs was 20th, South Haven 44th and Traverse City 48th.
Craft beer will soon be brewed and served in downtown Muskegon. Unruly Brewing Co. recently signed a letter of intent to lease space on the first floor of the historic Russell Block building. The building located at 360 W. Western will soon be home to the Russell Block Market, an incubator for start-up businesses like Unruly Brewing Co.
Mark Gongalski, one of the partners in Unruly said, “We really want to be a community brewery and Downtown is the perfect place for us to be. The building’s high ceilings, brickwork and outdoor patio space will really give us that bier garden feeling we are looking for. We hope to help drive the downtown economy.”
The Muskegon Retail Incubator (MRI), a non-profit organization, will be managing the Russell Block Market and coordinating programming for its tenants to foster growth and success for downtown businesses. Click here to read more about MRI and Unruly Brewing Co.
Click here to read more about Unruly Brewing.
Click here to read more about MRI.
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