Category Archives: Chamber News

January 2018 E-news

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Chamber named 2017 Newsmaker of the Year

Business Journal names Newsmaker nominees

December 18, 2017

West Michigan may be battling a talent shortage, but it’s not at the upper levels.

When Grand Rapids Business Journal reporters and editors met to discuss nominees for the 2017 Newsmaker of the Year honors, more than 225 choices were considered before settling on the top three nominees in each of the following 16 categories: Arts & Entertainment, Beverages, Economic Development, Education, Finance, Food, Health Care, Law, Manufacturing, Nonprofits/Philanthropy, Real Estate/Construction, Retail, Sports, Startups, Sustainability and Technology.

Last year, Adam Kramer, executive vice president of strategy for Switch, the massive technology firm and data center currently making its home in the former Steelcase Pyramid building in Gaines Township south of Grand Rapids, was the overall winner.

Most of the nominees are familiar to West Michigan residents, especially those who read the Business Journal on a consistent basis, because they are the people who shaped local news in 2017.

The Business Journal will honor West Michigan’s top decision makers on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at its annual Newsmakers of the Year breakfast at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. Tickets for the event, which begins at 7:30 a.m., are available online.

The top selection from each category will be recognized with an industry Newsmaker award, and a Newsmaker of the Year will be selected from among the winners of those 16 categories.

The top Newsmaker in each category and the overall Newsmaker of the Year will be announced during the event.

A printed supplement profiling the nominees in each category will be included in the Jan. 29, 2018 issue of the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

For now, though, here is the first look at the finalists in each of the categories for Grand Rapids Business Journal 2017 Newsmaker of the Year.

2017 Newsmaker of the Year finalists

Arts & Entertainment

David Hooker, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Rich MacKeigan, SMG

Scott Sprague, Gun Lake Casino


Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing Co.

Daryn Kuipers, Boxed Water

Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers

Economic Development

Dick DeVos, Grand Action

James Gill, Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Cindy Larsen, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce


Betsy DeVos, U.S. Department of Education

Thomas Haas, Grand Valley State University

Kevin Quinn, Aquinas College


Stephen Duarte, Kent County

Sandra Jelinski, Lake Michigan Credit Union

David Quade, Horizon Bank


Steve Cooper, Continental Dairy

Herb Herbruck, Herbruck’s Poultry

Rich Wolowski, Gordon Food Service

Health Care

Norman Beauchamp Jr., MSU Grand Rapids Research Center

Mark Eastburg, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

Kevin Lobo, Stryker Corp.


Matt Fenske, Ottawa County

Kevin Lobo, Stryker Corp.

James Saalfeld, Kent County


Marc Bitzer, Whirlpool Corp.

James Keane, Steelcase Inc.

Kevin Prindable, GE Aviation


Jon Ippel, Amplify GR

Scott Jonkhoff, Next Step

Ryan VerWys, Inner City Christian Federation

Real Estate/Construction

Adam Kramer, Switch

Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction

John Wheeler, Orion Construction


Hank Meijer, Meijer Inc.

Phil Russo, Russo’s International Market

Robert Schermer Jr., Meritage Hospitality Group


Dan DeVos, Grand Rapids Griffins

Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission

Steve Jbara, Grand Rapids Drive


Bob Baltera, Cirius Therapeutics

Julie Burrell, Pumpndo

Feliciano Paredes, AgHelp


Dave Koster, Holland Energy Plant

Jason Meyer, Blandford Nature Center

Mike VanGessel, Circuit West


Dan Irvin, 123Net

John Keller, Metro Health-University of Michigan Health

David Van Andel, Van Andel Research Institute

Lakeshore Art Festival Named Favorite Small Town Art Fair Second Year in a Row

PHONE: 231-724-3176


December 19, 2017


MUSKEGON, MI –  The Lakeshore Art Festival continues to raise the bar for fine art and craft events in Michigan. For the second year in a row, the festival was ranked one of the Favorite Small Town Art Fairs by The website ranked festivals based on a survey taken by thousands of art festival attendees.


“I was incredibly excited to hear we made the list again this year,” said Lakeshore Art Festival Director, Carla Flanders. “The Lakeshore Art Festival continues to lead the way in attendance, sustainability, and interactive art. I am thrilled to be part of the great team that makes everything happen.” The art festival has also been recognized as #1 in the state of Michigan for Classic & Contemporary Craft Shows and ranked #27 in the nation by the Sunshine Artist Magazine which is known for high-quality content for the fine art and craft industry.


The rankings are obtained via ballots from art fair attendees across the country. Voters are asked to choose their favorite art fairs and shows in the country as well as in categories, such as Favorite Small Town Art Fair. They

were also asked questions about their attendance preferences, festival buying habits, favorite artists and more.


“The recent recognition is bringing positive attention to the Lakeshore Art Festival and Muskegon both locally and nationally,” commented Flanders. “We are incredibly proud of all the work going into this festival, and the artists who play such a big role in this artful event.”


Fine artists and hand crafters can register now for the Lakeshore Art Festival, July 6 & 7, at Deadline is February 1, 2018.




About the Chamber

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is the premier business membership organization on the lakeshore representing approximately 1,200 businesses and organizations. The Muskegon Chamber represents businesses of every size and type all over West Michigan. The Chamber is celebrating 120 years in operation working to sustain an environment for business success through community leadership, promotion, inclusive business advocacy and valued member services. The Muskegon Chamber is a three-time award-winning Chamber, being named Chamber of the Year for the State of Michigan in 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2015 by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals.


December 2017 E-news

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November 2017 E-News 

November 2017 E-News 



Local Agents of Change are Recognized

NOVEMBER 10, 2017


Nine community individuals and organizations were recognized as the 2017 Agents of Change by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. The Agents of Change program awards those who have made a positive contribution to the Muskegon Lakeshore.


“The Muskegon Lakeshore is quickly evolving,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “These individuals and organizations are dramatically changing the landscape of our community, and deserve recognition for their efforts.”
This year’s Agents of Change were recognized at the Tenth Annual Agents of Change Event on November 7, 2017 at The Handsome Hobo Restaurant & Bar.  This event was produced by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with WGVU Public Media.

Here are the 2017 projects, individuals and businesses recognized as 2017 Agents of Change: (see pictures attached)


City of Whitehall (Colby Street)

Reinventing the main street of a downtown is a thankless job.  The City of Whitehall worked with all the stakeholders to see this major development through to completion.  Thanks to the city, downtown Whitehall is fresh, new and re-energized!  Colby Street is once again a major destination attracting businesses and tourists to the lakeshore.


Ann Meisch

One of the most exciting projects to hit Muskegon County this year was the opening of Western Market.  These (10) small retail shops have captured the hearts of residents and visitors alike. Ann Meisch worked tirelessly to get these shops open in time for the tourism season. She is the spirit and champion for the success of these small businesses.


Dr. Dale Nesbary

Dr. Nesbary has put the word “community” back in Muskegon Community College.  He is always on the move to create the best environment for education success.  Millions of dollars have been invested in state-of-the-art programs and facilities.  Thanks to Dr. Nesbary’s leadership, Muskegon Community College has been named the best Community College in Michigan!


TJ Chappel

There is something about Muskegon Heights Club Director, TJ Chappel that inspires people to be their best.  The Boys & Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore now has a fully operational Muskegon Heights program thanks to TJ’s leadership.  TJ and his team are making a difference as they bring creative talent and enthusiasm to the community.


Hamburger Mikey

A new take on an American classic, Hamburger Mikey, has brought life to Midtown with hamburgers and fries!  The staff’s upbeat personalities and colorful environment bring people together over a good meal. They created a destination restaurant popular with young and old.


Muskegon Polish Festival

A local committee came together with a vision for a Polish Festival the entire community could enjoy.  They did it.  One of Muskegon’s newest events, the Muskegon Polish Festival is attracting more than just a Polish crowd.  Great music, dancing and food are the highlights of this special celebration.


Great Lakes Fresh Market

The team at Great Lakes Fresh Market are transforming an old grocery chain into modern attractive facilities with healthy food choices.  Great Lakes Fresh Market is bringing quality products back to the neighborhoods they serve.  Working morning, noon and night, the organization is investing, hiring, and bringing great customer service to the community.


La Colombe Coffee

A Philadelphia based firm, La Colombe Coffee, chose the location of Norton Shores to make their exciting new product, draft lattes.  They are making a serious investment in this state-of-the-art production and packaging process here in Muskegon County.  We are proud that they have brought their visionary success to this area, investing and hiring locally.


KL Outdoor

This locally owned family business has grown to become the largest Manufacturer of Kayaks in the world!  Through a series of reorganizations and mergers, KL Outdoor is leading the way in outdoor recreation products.  Choosing downtown Muskegon for the company headquarters is icing on the cake.  We salute the vision and determination of this hardworking team.



CONTACT: Jodi Kittle
Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce


Environmental Awards, National Accolades and a Call For Artists



November 2, 2017




MUSKEGON, MI –  The Lakeshore Art Festival continues to take art and environmental stewardship to the next level. The 2017 Sustainability Report was just released and outlines ways that the festival continues to make progress towards a zero waste event. This year, the festival piloted a new program which allowed guests to fill reusable cups at a free water station instead of buying water bottles. This program allowed for the reduction in consumption of approximately 640, 16oz. plastic water bottles.


The Lakeshore Art Festival continues to lead the way in creating an environmentally focused event. Food vendors are required to utilize compostable or post-consumer serving-ware, tons of waste are diverted from landfills through recycling and composting efforts and an environmental education booth is hosted in the Children’s Lane. The festival’s “Keepin’ It Green” initiative was recognized by the Muskegon Area Sustainability Coalition with a 2017 Sustainability Champion Award. To review the complete 2017 Sustainability Report, visit: (


The Lakeshore Art Festival is 1st in the state of Michigan for Classic & Contemporary Craft Shows and ranked 27th in the nation by the Sunshine Artist Magazine which is known for high-quality content for the fine art and craft industry.


The festival is also in the running for the 2017 America’s Best Art and Crafts Fair. You can help by voting for the Lakeshore Art Festival here: Be sure to type in “Lakeshore Art Festival, Muskegon MI” where applicable. Lakeshore Art Festival was voted “Favorite Small Town Art Fair” in 2016.


“It has been our goal since the inception of the Lakeshore Art Festival to raise the bar on quality artists, unique event enhancements and artful community engagement. The recent recognition is bringing positive attention to the Lakeshore Art Festival and Muskegon both locally and nationally,” commented Carla Flanders, Lakeshore Art Festival Director. “Now is the time where we recruit artists across the country to exhibit in the show. We are glad to see the influx of high-quality artists and crafters wanting to be part of this nationally recognized show!”


Fine artists and crafters that want to register for the 2018 Lakeshore Art Festival can visit




CONTACT: Carla Flanders
Lakeshore Art Festival Director


Chamber honors Lakeshore ATHENA winners

The chief operating officer of a metal components maker has been named the 2017 Lakeshore ATHENA Award winner.


Kelly Springer, of Holland-based Metal Flow Corporation, accepted the honor at the 13th-annual Lakeshore ATHENA Awards luncheon this month at Trillium Events in Spring Lake.


The ATHENA Award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates professional excellence and community service and assists women in the attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

Stefanie Herder, marketing and communications manager at the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, was also honored as recipient of the 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award.


An ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award is given each year to an emerging leader who exemplifies excellence, creativity and initiative in his or her profession, serves as a role model for young women and works to improve the quality of life for others in the community.



Click here to learn more!

Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Realigns Staff

PHONE: 231-722-3751
FAX: 231-728-7251



October 20, 2017


Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Realigns Staff


Muskegon, MI – As the community grows and business changes, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce has realigned its staff positions and areas of service. Carla Flanders has been promoted to Vice President of Marketing where she is in charge of all chamber related marketing activities, staff positions, and areas of service. This role includes being the administrator of the community Watch Muskegon Image Campaign along with being the Director of the award-winning Lakeshore Art Festival.  All of the Chamber’s marketing will operate under Carla’s leadership.


“Carla is committed to making things happen in this community by utilizing her high energy, marketing skills and determination” according to Cindy Larsen, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce President.


Carla Flanders has been working with the chamber for over 5 years and was previously the business owner of CMF Marketing and Events where she managed and produced a number of large scale community events in West Michigan.


In addition, three new staff members have been hired in the area of events and communications.  Jodi Kittle is the new Communications Manager and she is responsible for all e-communications, chamber brand publications, and the chamber’s website and social media accounts.  Kristin Knop is the new chamber Events Director.  Knop manages over 50 chamber events such as the Business for Breakfast, Stir Networking Event (formerly known as the Business After Hours), Entrepreneur Award Luncheon, the Chamber Classic Golf Outing, Member Celebrations and more. Megan Jones is the new Events and Promotions Specialist. She works hand-in-hand with Flanders on the Watch Muskegon Campaign and the Lakeshore Art Festival.


Dawn Johnson, Vice President of Membership, has grown the membership department to include Member Services Liaison, Sue Carpenter.  They work in tandem to recruit and retain service members with valued programs and benefits. Additionally, Johnson was recently named Chair of Midwest Board of Regents for U.S. Chamber Foundations Institute for Organization Management. Also supporting the organization in accounting, data management, referrals and customer service are Marie Chabotte and Pati Webster.


The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce has won numerous awards at the state and national level and has over 1,200 business members along the Lakeshore.





October 2017 E-news

October 2017 E-news

Other ways to get involved

Volunteer for the Lakeshore Art Festival

A unique blend of arts, crafts, music, food and fun along the shoreline in historic Downtown Muskegon. More than 300 artists and crafters will be showcased with fine art in the park, crafts, children’s activities and Michigan food market – all wrapped up in a huge downtown street party atmosphere! Join us on July 5, and July 6, 2019.

Learn more

Join Watch Muskegon

Muskegon has more to offer than ever before. Join the conversation, movement and Watch Us Go!

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