5 Small Business Resources in Grand Rapids

By Adrienne Asselmeier on September 20th, 2013 / Comments

Grand Rapids, MI has been recognized for some wonderful achievements lately. We’ve been named Beer City USA because of our affinity for craft beer and wide support of our incredible breweries. We were named most sustainable midsize city in the U.S. Our bus system, The Rapid, has been named best in its class by a preeminent national transportation group, and we were recognized in Forbes as a flourishing economy with a growing tech industry. Overall, it is a very good time to be in Grand Rapids!

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) is a Small Business Administration Women’s Business Center in Grand Rapids. We are one of the many organizations in existence to provide help for small business owners. Small business support is huge in Grand Rapids, and we’re proud to work together with partnering organizations in order to bring the best in entrepreneurial training, financial resources, and networking. Most people connect with us by taking advantage of our free business counseling, and attending one of our training classes. We’ve been up to a lot at GROW, but the thing that gets people the most excited is our Microloan Program.

A microloan is a relatively small loan ($1,000 to $50,000) made to a business to help them start or grow. The qualifications are different from traditional bank requirements, and often we can help people who find that they don’t meet bank criteria. Along with getting a microloan, borrowers receive specialized technical assistance to advance their skills and become a stronger business owner. We’re one of three microlenders in Michigan, and the only one in West Michigan (learn more about microlending from the SBA).

But we’re just one organization with services available to business owners in West Michigan. Here are five additional ways to get small business support in Grand Rapids:

Join Local First! Local First is a bright spot for West Michigan, and has become a sign of growing support for local living and buying local. Their members are local businesses of all sorts, and are given small business help, promotion, and networking to drive business growth and the overall strength of our regional economy.

Connect with one of our chambers. Our local chambers do some amazing work to support business in the area. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has a number of valuable programs and resources for small business owners. Plus, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Black Chamber of Commerce have specialized programs and opportunities for black and Hispanic business owners to get a leg up in the community.

Visit the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center. The MI-SBTDC focuses their programming and small business resources for technology-based companies and startups. Another cool tech-centered resource for startups and freelancers is The Factory.

Start Garden’s vision is to create an ecosystem that helps ideas become businesses. They have interested persons pitch business ideas for the opportunity to receive a $5,000 investment, with the possibility of even further support in the future. Start Garden promotes community involvement by hosting regular update nights to get updates on the businesses in which they’ve invested.

SCORE utilizes mentors to provide free face-to-face, telephone and e-mail business counseling. They aim to help small businesses evaluate plans, stabilize, grow, innovate and succeed.

There are so many ways for small business owners and future entrepreneurs to get connected with services in their community. The SBA has a large list of Michigan offices and affiliates, and the city of Grand Rapids offers an extensive Small Business Resource Guide. If you’re not sure where to go, check the SBA list, talk to your local chamber, or do a search of related small business organizations in your area. Don’t forget to network with other small business owners for referrals, best practices, and to create an overall welcoming climate for the small businesses that help make Michigan a great place to be an entrepreneur!

Photo Credit: ExperienceGR.

About the Author

Adrienne Asselmeier

Adrienne "Dren" Asselmeier is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, a Small Business Administration Women's Business Center in West Michigan. Dren has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and is a blogger, runner, over-achiever, and friend to everyone. She likes to write about science-based health and fitness, small business ownership, and motivational topics.