Category Archives: Chamber Blog

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce recognizes Ambassadors of the Year

Lisa Falcon, Board Chair Tom Schultz, and Mary Beth Ramos

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce has named Mary Beth Ramos, Ramos & Sons Auto Body, and Lisa Falcon, Comerica Bank, as this year’s recipients of the 2019 Ambassador of the Year Award.

 

The Ambassador of the Year Award is based on an ambassador’s support of the Chamber and its mission, their commitment to Chamber events, and their positive attitude about the Muskegon Lakeshore Community.

 

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce ambassadors are volunteers who act as an extension of Chamber staff by promoting and connecting the interests of businesses to the Chamber. The ambassadors make it possible for the Chamber to offer many of its programs and services through the time and work they donate.

 

Ramos and Falcon have actively promoted the Chamber throughout Muskegon County. They have volunteered at the Lakeshore Art Festival along with many other Chamber and community events, completed member retention calls, and delivered new member welcome bags, while always having a great attitude.

Deadline Alert for Small Businesses in Nine Michigan Counties to Apply for SBA Working Capital Loans Due to Severe Weather and Flooding

The U.S. Small Business Administration is reminding businesses in Michigan that working capital loans are still available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations affected by severe weather and flooding on March 14, 2019.

 

“Businesses that suffered economic losses as a result of the disaster and want to apply for low-interest loans from the SBA are urged to do so before the Jan. 6 deadline,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA Field Operations Center East.

 

Low-interest disaster loans are available in the following counties: Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola in Michigan.

 

Working capital disaster loans up to $2 million are available at 4 percent for small businesses, and 2.75 percent for private nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. The loans are intended to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. To be considered for this assistance, eligible entities need to apply by the deadline.

 

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

 

Businesses may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

 

The deadline to return economic injury applications is Jan. 6, 2020.

Local group looks to help Muskegon County minority-owned businesses

As part of the Livability Lab: 100-Day Challenge, Minority Businesses (Team 10), a diverse team of individuals, entrepreneurs, and business people have come together with the sole purpose to strengthen, support, and help grow minority-owned businesses throughout Muskegon County. Team 10 has created a survey to identify the needs of minority-owned businesses in Muskegon County. The survey can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8CY9MWT .

The results of this survey will help in supporting local businesses with the proper resources to fit their needs. Access to resources is a contributing factor to businesses being successful.

At the end of the 100 days, the Livability Lab will reconvene on January 23 to plan the next steps to continue this positive momentum.

This Livability Lab: 100 Day challenge team is working in conjunction with Mercy Health, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Area First, Muskegon Heights Business Association, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE of Muskegon, Muskegon Rotary Diversity & Inclusion committee, Community Foundation for Muskegon County, and local minority owned entrepreneurs.

Food & Facts: Take a Break to Educate

Food and FactsThe Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and SCORE Muskegon will be hosting a luncheon that will educate attendees on how to manage their business finances. This event will take place at Muskegon Area Transit System, 2624 Sixth Street, Muskegon Heights, on Wednesday, November 20 from 12:00 – 1:30 pm.

 

Money is at the heart of every business and so is food. Food and facts come together at this upcoming luncheon on understanding money – how to raise it, account for it, and manage it.

 

Ozetta Aaron and Howard Meade from SCORE Muskegon will be presenting the workshop. They will address projecting cash needs, controlling the balance sheet, managing operating cash needs and alternatives in business funding. A tasty will be provided by Savory & Spice. Registration for the event will close on November 20.

 

To register for the event or for more information about Food & Facts please visit https://web.muskegon.org/events/Food-Facts-Take-a-break-to-educate-9082/details or contact the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce at 231-722-3751. Special pricing is available for just $10 dollars to new businesses that are under 2 years of age, and here are a few scholarships available for women-owned businesses.

Award-winning Lakeshore Art Festival announces call for artists

The award-winning Lakeshore Art Festival is now accepting fine art and craft applications for the 2020 festival taking place Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4, 2020.

 

Lakeshore Art Festival has a “blind jury process.” Every year, a group of industry professionals, artists and crafters review each entry, not knowing who the applicant is (i.e. blind jury). Jurors rely solely on the images and body of work provided by the applicants and score each applicant based on standards of quality, uniqueness and handcrafted appeal. Applications are ran through the online Zapplications program and can be accessed via lakeshoreartfestival.org.

 

Lakeshore Art Festival continues to rank in the Top 200 Best by the Sunshine Artist Magazine, coming in #21 this year. The Lakeshore Art Festival has also been recognized by the Grand Haven Tribune as People’s Choice Award: #1 Art Festival in West Michigan and as one of the Best Art Fairs in America by ArtFairCalendar.com.

 

The Lakeshore Art Festival has worked hard to be a socially and environmentally sustainable festival that focuses on the triple bottom line. Accomplishments towards the triple bottom line are tracked and recorded through the Lakeshore Art Festival Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Highlights for this year’s report include:

 

  • Muskegon County received $1.59 million dollars of direct economic impact in 2019 and a total $7.2 million dollar of economic impact since 2014.
  • 9,436 pounds of material have been diverted from the landfill and 2,500 single-serve water bottles have been avoided, by adding refillable water stations.
  • 300 local volunteer opportunities have been provided and $22,550 has been awarded to artists and non-profits.

 

 

“Our mission is to provide an inclusive, artful event for all to enjoy.  Guests, artists and crafters come from all over the country to enjoy the beauty of our Muskegon Lakeshore area, experience our artful environment and visit our unique businesses. We are thankful for them and for our welcoming community!” said Carla Flanders, Lakeshore Art Festival Director.

 

Fine artist and crafter exhibitors that would like more information or want to apply for the 2020 Lakeshore Art Festival can visit lakeshoreartfestival.org.

 

Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY Show opens exhibitor registration

The popular Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY show is returning to Fricano’s Event Center March 13 and 14, 2020.  Last year, booth spaces sold quickly, so interested businesses are encouraged to apply early.

 

The 2020 Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY show will feature over 50 exhibitors including everything from windows, siding, gutters, and painting to home décor, furniture, landscaping and much more! A show favorite, the Do It Yourself seminars will be back again this year. The Do It Yourself seminars will highlight floral design, furniture refurbishing, backsplash tiling, gardening and more!

 

“Last year, we expanded the footprint of the Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY show,” says Home Show Event Director, Kristin Knop. “With the larger space, we are able to offer a larger variety of exhibitors to all of our attendees. We are looking to put on another great show this year!”

 

“I love that it grew from last year. I hope that it keeps growing!” – 2019 Guest Attendee

 

“Great atmosphere. Friendly and inviting.” – 2019 Guest Attendee

 

“Muskegon puts on the BEST home, garden DIY show that I have ever participated in.” – 2019 Show Exhibitor

 

Those interested in applying to exhibit are encouraged to visit www.muskegonhgs.org. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For sponsorships or additional information about the show, contact Kristin Knop at 231.724.3182 or KKnop@muskegon.org.

Chamber Classic golf outing raises $4,500 for Muskegon Silent Observer Program

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce promotes community safety through the Muskegon Silent Observer Program. With over 60 teams and dozens of volunteers, this year’s Chamber Classic golf outing, held at Chase Hammond Golf Club, raised $4,500 for the Muskegon Silent Observer Program. This is the largest amount raised to support the Silent Observer Program from the Chamber Classic.

 

“This additional funding will enable the Silent Observer Program to enhance marketing efforts throughout Muskegon County and provide additional funding for tips payouts,” said Tom Schultz, Silent Observer committee Chairman. “The number of tips received by Silent Observer, and the amount of rewards paid out for crimes solved, have increased significantly over the past several years. I’m confident that this additional funding will help to continue that momentum for the Silent Observer Program.”

 

The Silent Observer Program is funded by private donations and contributions from the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. To find more information or to make a donation visit silentobservermuskegon.com.

 

To submit information on a crime call Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME (7463), download the P3 Tips app on your Android or Apple device, or visit silentobserver.com.

New Business Association in Muskegon Heights

A new business association has formed in the city of Muskegon Heights. The Muskegon Heights Business Association is a group of businesses, large and small, who have joined forces to create a “united voice” for a supportive business climate. Their intention is to build a thriving business community in this important core city.

 

“Any business owner or key organization decision-maker is welcome to attend our meetings,” says Association chair Jack Russell, President of Rolar Products. The group meets monthly to discuss the needs of businesses.

 

“Right now, we are focused on promoting the job opportunities located in Muskegon Heights,” says Russell. In October, local manufacturers are working with local school officials to organize facility tours for students of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights Academy Public Schools. This event may be the first of many business tours in the area.

 

The first project of the association took place last spring, when members helped on a clean-up day for Rowan Park.  The association members are eager to support other clean-up projects in Muskegon Heights and along Sherman Blvd.

 

The group also plans to work closely with city officials, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber, and Muskegon Area First to advocate for better roads and new development.

 

There is no cost to join the group because the administration is being managed by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “Our chamber has a number of members in Muskegon Heights, so this was a natural partnership to support businesses in the area,” according to Morgan Carroll, Advocacy and Manufacturing Manager for the Lakeshore Chamber.

Chamber President Cindy Larsen helps to expand cruise ships on the Great Lakes

Stephen Burnett likens the process of bringing cruise ships to dock at the Port of Indiana to birthing an elephant.

 

The process takes 18 to 36 months and includes creating a “shopping list” of things for visitors to see during excursions once they get off the ship, Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, said.

 

“What you’re trying to do is break into an existing industry with established patterns,” Burnett, who oversees the coalition from an office in Kingston, Ontario, said, adding the dunes, agritourism and wineries all could be a draw. “It’s a process and you have to work it.”

 

Continue reading at Chicago Tribune.

Brianna T. Scott recognized as the 2019 ATHENA On The Lakeshore Award recipient

Brianna T. Scott

Brianna T. Scott, Attorney/Member-Owner at Brianna T. Scott & Associates, PLLC, was honored as the 2019 ATHENA on the Lakeshore Award Recipient. The announcement was made today at the annual luncheon celebration, held at the Spring Lake Country Club. The ATHENA awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding lakeshore women who have demonstrated excellence in their business or profession, have provided valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in their community, assist women in reaching their full potential and exhibit the spirit of regional collaboration.

 

Brianna T. Scott, Attorney/Member-Owner at Brianna T. Scott & Associates, PLLC began practicing law in 2000 and was the first African American attorney hired by the Muskegon County Prosecutors office. Five years later, she started her own practice to become the only female minority-owned law firm on the Lakeshore. The time and commitment to her career did not stop her from giving back to the community.  She was the first African American President of the Muskegon Rotary Club and as co-chair of the Rotary Diversity and Inclusion committee, she spearheaded new events to engage the entire community under the theme “Love Lives Here”. Her latest achievement exemplifies her loyalty to Spartans and the safety of women and social justice, as she has won a position on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

 

The ATHENA on the Lakeshore program also recognizes a Young Professional Recipient each year. Abby Selby, CPA at Selby Tax and Accounting, was honored as the 2019 ATHENA on the Lakeshore Young Professional Award Recipient. An entrepreneur at heart, Abby has a passion for business prosperity and building relationships as a business owner and volunteer for many charitable events.

 

The recipients are chosen by a selection committee composed of representatives from the participating Chambers and community business leaders. Nine finalists and ten young professional finalists were recognized at the luncheon, which was attended by over 300 regional community and business leaders.