Business development center hires regional director
A new leader has taken up the reins at the regional arm of a statewide business resource organization.
The West Michigan Small Business Development Center said this month it hired Ed Garner as its new regional director.
Garner is former president and CEO of Muskegon Area First, a nonprofit economic development corporation in Muskegon.
“We are extremely excited to have Ed as the director of our West Michigan Region SBDC,” said Keith Brophy, state director, Michigan SBDC. “His knowledge of West Michigan’s unique business ecosystem is an advantage to both the Michigan SBDC and the local entrepreneurs we serve.”
In his new role, Garner will provide oversight, resource development, coordination and management of the SBDC West Michigan Regional Office, which is at Grand Valley State University.
“With a growing number of entrepreneurial resources and programs, the West Michigan region is full of business activity that can be enhanced by the SBDC,” Garner said.
Born and raised in Muskegon Heights, Garner has lived and worked in several major cities, including Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and Denver.
During his tenure at Muskegon Area First, Garner participated in developing the Muskegon Business Resource team — in partnership with Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Works! Muskegon-Oceana and Muskegon Community College — to offer the support and connections businesses need to stay in Muskegon.
He was also involved in forging The Advanced Manufacturing Institute, a partnership between Muskegon Community College, Muskegon Area First and Michigan Works of Muskegon and Oceana counties to help employers up-skill workers.
Garner was recognized for having the best Satellite SBTDC Center in 1999 and was presented with the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1998.
He has an M.B.A. from Western Michigan University and a B.S. in engineering from Michigan State University. He is also a graduate of the Muskegon Leadership Program, Grand Haven Leadership Connect and Leadership West Michigan.
Garner serves as the board president of the Urban League of Greater Muskegon and the board treasurer for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.
West Michigan Region SBDC
In 2016, the West Michigan Region SBDC provided one-on-one business counseling to 790 area entrepreneurs, resulting in 853 jobs created or retained and 49 new business starts.
The West Michigan Region SBDC generated $41,493,749 in capital formation last year.
The Michigan Small Business Development Center provides free counseling, business education, information-based planning and technology commercialization services to Michigan’s new business ventures, existing small businesses, growing businesses and innovators.
The MI-SBDC State Lead Center is at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, at 50 Front Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids.