Category Archives: Chamber Blog

Lakeshore Art Festival Theme Honored Through PADNOS Public Art Project

Muskegon, MI –The Lakeshore Art Festival in partnership with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will honor the festival’s 2020 theme “The Art of Recycling” through the PADNOS Public Art Project. Lakeshore Art Festival 2020 was slated to take place July 3 and 4 in downtown Muskegon but was cancelled due to health concerns over COVID-19.

Lakeshore Art Festival and PADNOS, a regional recycler of metals, plastics, paper and electronics, have partnered to create an exhibition of four public sculptures in downtown Muskegon. A celebration to unveil the sculptures will take place at Olthoff Stage in downtown Muskegon on Wednesday, June 24 at 4:30 p.m. The sculptures will be prominently placed outdoors along Western Avenue until Fall 2020. All of the sculptures created for this unique exhibit have been constructed from at least 90% recycled materials donated by PADNOS.

“PADNOS is thrilled to be a partner on this project and help bring awareness of the power of recycling to the Muskegon community,” said Mitch Scholten, Senior Manager of PADNOS Muskegon Recycling. “This project supports our mission of community outreach and seeing possibility in expendability.”

Four artists were selected through a jurying process. The selected artists are Larry Sybesma, Chip Vander Wier, Sherri Balaskovitz and EA-Craftworks, which is comprised of four artists: Mark Schentzel, Alex Kallio, Tom Hutchins and Jack Cantu. Artists will receive a stipend to produce the public art piece and if chosen to be a permanent art display in downtown Muskegon, additional funds will be paid as the purchase price of the sculpture. Artists will also have the opportunity to sell their work.

Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce commented, “We are excited to still have a portion of Lakeshore Art Festival live on this year. This project will bring additional public art to the Muskegon Lakeshore community that both residents and visitors can enjoy this summer.”

The PADNOS Public Art Project is funded in conjunction with PADNOS, Quality Tool & Stamping, Clifford Buck Construction Company and through a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Opening Businesses Together on the Muskegon Lakeshore

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce promotes reopening local business as soon as possible. The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber is providing resources to assist businesses in opening up in time for tourism season.

Surveys show that reopening a business is a process that can take anywhere from one to four weeks. “We are happy to see some industries open like manufacturing, construction and retail” said Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “It is now time for more small businesses to experiment with soft or test openings.” To effectively train employees on the new safety processes, they need practice, according to Larsen. “We are encouraging businesses to get ready now for when the state officially opens.”

“As long as business owners and employees are diligent in taking all the safety precautions such as social distancing and stringent cleaning protocol, life can get back to normal in Muskegon County”, said Kathy Moore, Muskegon County Public Health Director and Officer.

Local governments are ready to assist in this important process. “Residents in Muskegon County need to know that local government and law-enforcement are working together to support the safe reopening of business,” stated DJ Hilson, Muskegon County Prosecutor.

“The Muskegon Lakeshore is a premier waterfront destination,” Bob Lukens, Director of Visit Muskegon, the county’s convention and visitors bureau. “Muskegon has big, clean beaches that offer visitors room to spread out and enjoy the sun and water, and our outdoor spaces provide activities for the entire family, like biking, hiking, boating or simply relaxing in our beautiful lakeshore communities.”

MAISD Statement to Parents from Superintendents

Earlier today Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an Executive Order closing all Michigan schools through the end of this school year, unless restrictions are lifted. The Governor’s action speaks to how serious this health crisis is. It also indicates how deeply this crisis is expected to impact our communities.


Our hearts are heavy with the loss of so many important moments, especially for our graduating class of 2020, but we recognize this action is a needed step to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.


In the Executive Order the Governor announced high school seniors who were on track to graduate before the school building closure will be allowed to graduate; all other students who were on track are expected to progress to the next grade level as well. Governor Whitmer said she is concerned for the children of our state and is committed to continued learning and support for them during the coming months. She has given clear direction to our schools and Intermediate School Districts across the state to continue to connect with and teach our students remotely through the end of the school year. While this type of “school” cannot replace the rich, face-to-face learning that takes place inside our classrooms, our staff are ready for this challenge. Many students will not have access to the high-tech learning devices and robust online connections they enjoy within our schools. Our staff will do what they can to reach these students as well.


You are your children’s first and best teacher, a role you fulfill by helping them continue to be engaged in learning. Assure them learning will continue at home, even though our school buildings are closed. Let your children know their teachers will be reaching out to them over the next few weeks. Read all emails and listen to messages sent from the school and check with your older children to find out if they are participating in learning opportunities.


Most of all, protect your children from the Coronavirus by keeping them at home and observing social distancing, when they might be out-of-doors. Talk to your children about frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, not touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Also clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Although this is a rapidly changing and uncertain time, our schools will continue to serve. We will finish the year strong, even in the midst of this hardship.


MAISD & Public Schools in Muskegon County

Michigan Small Business Relief Program will provide up to $20 million in grants and loans to Michigan’s small businesses impacted by COVID-19 outbreak

Economic assistance for small businesses around Michigan that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 virus gained approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.


“We understand small businesses across our state are facing unprecedented challenges as we take every step possible to mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Through decisive actions like those taken today by the MSF Board to authorize relief for small businesses throughout Michigan, we are leveraging every resource available to support our businesses, communities and entrepreneurs around the state impacted by this outbreak.”


The Michigan Small Business Relief Program approved today authorizes the MEDC provide up to $20 million in support for small businesses. The funding is divided between $10 million in small business grants and $10 million in small business loans to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce.


The $10 million in grant funding will be provided to local or nonprofit economic development organizations throughout the state to provide grants up to $10,000 each to support certain small businesses that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 virus.


In order to qualify for grant support, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • , or any subsequent Executive Order of similar intent (“EO”), or demonstrates it is otherwise affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as meeting additional criteria;
  • The company has 50 employees or fewer;
  • The company needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business; and
  • The company is able to demonstrate an income loss as a result of the EO, or the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additionally, the program will authorize the MEDC to provide up to $10 million for small business loans to one or more Community Development Financial Institutions (“CDFI”) or a licensed SBA not-for-profit institutions (“Eligible SBA Non-Profit”), or directly from the MSF to eligible borrowers to be used to provide low-interest loans with flexible repayment terms to support certain small businesses statewide that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Loans to eligible borrowers must be $50,000 or more and are capped at $200,000.


In order to qualify for loan support, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • (“EO”), or demonstrates it is otherwise affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, or is a company that provides goods and services to companies to the aforementioned;
  • The company has fewer than 100 employees;
  • The company needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business;
  • The company can demonstrate that it is unable to access credit through alternative sources;
  • The company can demonstrate an income loss of as a result of Executive Order 2020-9.

The MEDC anticipates that at least 1,100 businesses across the state will benefit from this program.


The Michigan Small Business Relief Program will be a top priority for the MEDC, with funds being available no later than April 1, 2020. Loan and grant proceeds under the Michigan Small Business Relief Program may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business. Through this program, in combination with other programs and services, the state will ensure economic support is available to Michigan’s small businesses to overcome anticipated loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 virus through both grant and loan opportunities.


“With the outbreak of COVID-19, many small businesses are faced with significant economic impacts, including challenges with cash flow and resources to support their workforce,” said MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton. “The Michigan Small Business Relief program will provide immediate assistance to the small businesses around the state who are facing revenue loss as a result of tough, but necessary steps that have been taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.”


The Michigan Small Business Relief Program is the latest effort of MEDC to support Michigan businesses as they are impacted by COVID-19. MEDC has just launched a new free, statewide online procurement platform for buyers and suppliers of critical health and human services across a broad range of categories to minimize the impact of the virus in the state. The platform will allow health and human service providers in need of critical supplies to connect with suppliers of vital goods and services.


It also builds Governor Whitmer’s application for a U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)  declaration to ensure federal economic support is available to Michigan businesses. Earlier this month, Congress passed legislation making $1 billion available to the SBA to provide low-interest loans to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These loans offer up to $2 million in assistance to support businesses with any temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing due to the outbreak, and will have a significant regional impact for communities across the state as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
For more resources for small businesses in Michigan impacted by COVID-19 visit


The Michigan Strategic Fund also took the following actions today:


Red Cedar Development Project – The City of Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority requested approval of a Brownfield Act 381 Work Plan including $32,453,324 in school tax capture to support a development project on the former Red Cedar Golf Course site in the city of Lansing. As presented by the developers, the plan seeks to build a variety of pads to sell to related entities leaving some ambiguity as to the future development to occur on the site.


The MSF board today voted to deny the request because the development as proposed lacked details necessary to verify the financial need or the regional benefits, and the project generally does not comport with the state’s economic development priorities. The board’s action does not impact the local brownfield authority’s ability to move forward with their partial financing of the project.


Lofts on Alabama LLC amendment – Originally approved in June 2015, the Lofts on Alabama project included the demolition of an existing structure and rehabilitation of an existing building into market-rate apartments and a parking ramp in Grand Rapids. The project today received MSF approval to refinance from a loan participation agreement to a Fannie Mae senior loan and a new direct loan on the balance owed to the MSF. The new financing structure provides more advantageous terms, resulting in more monthly income to cover debt service payments.


About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at

A Message From Your Chamber President

Dear Chamber Member,


We are working to ensure that you have the most up-to-date business resources to help you during this time. The challenges may seem unmanageable to some, but we are facing them together. For businesses who are just starting to feel the pressure, don’t panic, but work quickly!


Provided below are the most current business resources available. Talking this out with your respected advisors, peers and chamber connections will help.


We have created a COVID-19 Business Resource page to keep you informed on the most relevant and up-to-date business resources.


Eligibility for unemployment benefits has been temporarily expanded through an executive order signed by Governor Whitmer. During this time unemployment benefits are extended to:


  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill.
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended. The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.

Click here for a fact sheet on how to apply for benefits.


This order also expands the State’s Work Share program. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. Click here to learn more about the Work Share program.


We love our businesses and this community and are doing everything in our power to be supportive.


Cindy Larsen and your chamber staff

Business Survival Tips

As we navigate the COVID-19 outbreak, here are 5 basic tips to help your business during this event.


  1. Don’t panic. Be calm and realistic as you review your business. Focus on the fundamentals and what you can control about your business. Look for new ways of doing business.


  1. Consult your mentors. Get feedback from advisors you trust. Stay close to accountants, attorneys, financial advisors and your peers. Ask for advice and meet to review the status of your business. Planning is the key for having a profitable year even with potentially little or no growth.


  1. Look for local funding. Get a simple business plan up to date. The SBA and others are starting to offer special programs. Sometimes economic development offices and local and state governments design programs for qualified small firms. As soon as we know the resources available, we will promote them.


  1. Find ways to cut costs. Monitor cash flow daily. Reduce overhead costs and hold the line on price increases, if possible. Make sure you have good collection policies and diligently seek timely payment. Keep good records of your inventory and be careful not to overstock. Although empty or sparse shelves can connote a negative image, it is a balance.


  1. Continue your marketing efforts (or expand them). This is the time you need marketing the most. It not only reassures your customers that you are still there to serve them, but it can help you reach new markets and customers to sustain your business. Visit your existing customers to find out how their needs may have changed. Visit customers who no longer use your product or service. Determine why. Adjust your product and/or service to meet changing demand and needs of the customer.

Here are a few other resources that you can use to help your business:


EA Resource Page


U.S. Chamber Response Toolkit



COVID-19 Outbreak Update

The following chamber events have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. For postponed events, please stay tuned for future updates. Chamber staff will be following up with committees and individuals for more meeting updates.


Your chamber staff is working diligently to stay up to date with the latest news on the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be sending out updates regularly. Please reach out with any questions or concerns you may have.














Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY Show Tickets on Sale Now

The Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY Show is being held at the Fricano Place Event Center, 1050 W Western Ave, on Friday, March 13 from 11 am – 7 pm and Saturday, March 14 from 10 am – 5 pm.


The show features over 50 local exhibitors, including everything from windows, siding, gutters, and painting to home décor, furniture, landscaping and much more. There will also be a wide variety of seminars for home owners and hobbyists, including floral arrangements, cooking demonstrations, living options, and more. There is something for everyone! Don’t forget about the returning and new activities such as…



  • Wine and beer tasting
  • Bloody Mary bar
  • Prizes
  • FREE Daisies, while supplies last
  • NEW THIS YEAR – Kids Zone on Saturday! Bring the kids along and enjoy a full day of fun activities with Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, Lowes, Beekeepers’ Association, Kids’ Food Basket, face painting, and balloon animals.


Tickets are available online at Advance tickets are recommended, but tickets will be sold at the door. Kids 12 and under are free. Tickets may be used for either Friday, March 13 or Saturday, March 14. With purchase of an admission ticket, you will receive a coupon good for $3 off a Fricano’s Pizza!


The Muskegon Home, Garden + DIY Show is a production of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce with support from the Lakeshore Home Builders Association, Fricano Place, Home Pro of West Michigan, Shepherd Shoreline Gutters & Garage Doors, Keene Lumber Company, Dirk Stone Real Estate Team, Family Financial Credit Union, and Shoreline Restoration & Construction. Other home show supporters are listed online at

Carla Flanders of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Completes Third Year at Institute for Organization Management

A Leadership Training Program Produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is pleased to announce that Carla Flanders, Vice President of Marketing, of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, has recently completed her third year at Institute for Organization Management, a four-year nonprofit leadership training program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.


“Institute graduates are recognized across the country as leaders in their industries and organizations,” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s vice president of Institute for Organization Management. “These individuals have the knowledge, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve professional and organizational success in the dynamic association and chamber industries.”


Since its commencement in 1921, the Institute program has been educating tens of thousands of association, chamber, and other nonprofit leaders on how to build stronger organizations, better serve their members and become strong business advocates. Institute’s curriculum consists of four weeklong sessions at four different university locations throughout the country. Through a combination of required courses and electives in areas such as leadership, advocacy, marketing, finance, and membership, Institute participants are able to enhance their own organizational management skills and add new fuel to their organizations, making them run more efficiently and effectively.


Institute for Organization Management is the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It is the premier nonprofit professional development program for association and chamber professionals, fostering individual growth through interactive learning and networking opportunities.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

Muskegon Chamber welcomes new board leadership

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce announces the appointment of Steve Olsen, president of Northern Machine Tool, as Chair of the Board of Directors for a one-year term, effective January 1, 2020.  In addition, Jonathan Wilson, Regional Manager of DTE Energy, has been appointed to the Board of Directors.


As the Chair, Olsen will provide the board of directors with leadership and guidance, while embracing and promoting the Chamber’s theme of Taking It Outdoors.


“It is certainly an honor to represent our local business community as the 2020 Board Chair of the Chamber of Commerce,” said Olsen. “I have always appreciated the Chamber as an organization that creates opportunities for networking and is also a strong business advocate at the local, state, and national level.”


The Chamber’s Board of Directors help to shape the chamber’s positions on critical issues and influence how the chamber works to improve the business environment in Muskegon County. The Chamber’s Board of Directors help establish policy and direction to ensure the Chamber’s mission and strategic vision are achieved and member needs are best served.