Lakeshore, Nonprofits, and Small Business & Startups

Chamber names Agents of Change

November 24, 2016
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RandiLynn Talsma and Jason Talsma
RandiLynn Talsma, left, and Jason Talsma. Photo via

A chamber of commerce has honored a group of leaders for being change agents.

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce named the 2016 Agents of Change at its ninth-annual Agents of Change Business After Hours celebration this month.

The honorees were selected based on community activities ranging from business reinventions to the creation of festivals, education initiatives and art installations.

“These passionate individuals are dramatically changing the landscape of our community and deserve recognition,” said Cindy Larsen, president, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

Agents of Change

Hoby Thrasher, Bear Lake Tavern

Thrasher reinvented the building and business at 360 Ruddiman Dr. in Muskegon to preserve local history, while modernizing and rebranding.

Jason Talsma and RandiLynn Talsma, Blended Furniture Market

The Talsmas turned a closed drug store at 730 Seminole Rd. in Norton Shores into a "destination" furniture store, moving their business from Holland to Norton Shores.

Lakeshore Brewers Guild, Burning Foot Beer Festival

The Lakeshore Brewers Guild turned its festival at Pere Marquette Beach into a Midwest craft beer celebration.

Ellen Berends, First Fridays

Berends’ First Fridays concept brings thousands of people to Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon on the first Friday of every month. The family friendly event includes street performers, Touch the Trucks, bonfires and more.

John Severson and Megan Byard-Karaba, Muskegon Area Promise

This program offers graduating high school students access to two-year college degrees, tuition-free in Muskegon County. Severson and Byard-Karaba worked with a volunteer board and state officials to seal final approval of the program.

Toni Seyferth, Muskegon STAR! Student Program

Seyferth created the first program at North Muskegon High School. The first STAR! class equipped teenagers with soft skills and information to promote the area’s assets. This class now is spreading to other Muskegon County school districts.

Erin Kuhn, Port Day Celebration

Business and community leaders from all over came to the shores of Muskegon Lake at the first Port Day on July 26 to learn about and celebrate the Port of Muskegon. The event highlighted the capabilities of the deep-water port in an effort to attract and expand business.

John Hermanson and Barb Hermanson, "Sails Ablaze" Art Installation

The Hermansons raised more than $144,000 for the art installation "Sails Ablaze." The sculpture, by artist Steven Anderson, honors the story of the Lyman Davis, the "fastest" and last commercial sailing ship on the Great Lakes, whose journey ended in arson.

The chamber

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce represents about 1,150 businesses and organizations.

The chamber is celebrating 120 years and is a three-time award-winning chamber, being named state Chamber of the Year in 2006, 2010 and 2012 by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals.

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