Economic Development, Lakeshore, and Small Business & Startups

Lakeshore Advantage sheds light on available resources

Organization holds networking event to give companies opportunity for growth.

September 23, 2016
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West Michigan is populated with available resources and tools to assist fledgling and mid-sized companies grow and succeed.

But in the estimation of Lakeshore Advantage, it’s been difficult to connect businesses with those resources. So, the Zeeland-based economic development organization teamed up with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to hatch a plan. From the partnership came the Lakeshore Business Resource Connection, a networking event designed to introduce lakeshore employers to resources that could help grow their business.

“You have to recognize most of these businesses are busy and don’t have time to stop and be heads up about what’s out there,” Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens said. “This allows them to come out all at one place to take advantage of the resources West Michigan has to offer.”

Lakeshore and the MEDC have secured about 30 business support organizations to be on hand at the event Sept. 30 at the Pinnacle Center, 3330 Highland Drive, in Hudsonville.

The event is aimed at helping small to mid-sized businesses and will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a short presentation outlining the services offered by the resources on hand. Following the introduction, businesses will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with each of the 30 resource providers through a format similar to speed dating. After five minutes, there will be a signal, and the businesses will switch to meet with a different resource.

“We wanted to make this as fast paced and as educational as possible to let everyone get in and out the door and get back to what they do best — running their successful businesses,” Owens said.

The list of participating organizations includes access capital resources, business to business support, entrepreneurial support, manufacturing support, talent solutions and new business development organizations.

“I was really amazed at how quickly they all said ‘yes’ to coming,” Owens said.

She said all four of Ottawa County’s chambers of commerce programs have been very helpful, not just in participating in the event, but also in promoting it.

This is the first Lakeshore Business Resource Connection event, and Owens said she hopes to see some of Ottawa and northern Allegan counties’ more than 500 manufacturing and primary employers represented. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register at

However, Owens said the success of the event won’t be measured by the number of participants but rather the strength of the connections fostered through the meet-and-greet.

“If we can walk away with a handful of companies that have made strong connections and learn about a resource to make their business more impactful, that’s what will make it successful,” she said. “It’s not about the quantity of people there, but it’s about the valuable connections being made.”

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