Economic Development, Government, and Small Business & Startups

City producing Small Business Expo

August 27, 2019
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DeVos Place River View
DeVos Place. Courtesy SMG

The city of Grand Rapids wants to connect local entrepreneurs with business-building resources.

The city and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. are co-hosting a Small Business Expo on Thursday, Aug. 29. The free event will be held at DeVos Place, 303 Monroe Ave. NW and aims to connect local business owners and managers with resources to grow their companies and provide opportunities for them to meet potential customers in West Michigan.

The open house-style event kicks off at 3 p.m., followed by opening remarks by City Manager Mark Washington at 3:30 p.m. A panel discussion with resource providers is set for 3:35 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with small business representatives at 5 p.m.

“The city of Grand Rapids is committed to helping small businesses in our community be successful and grow,” said Alvin Hills IV, the city’s business developer. “We are pleased to partner with DGRI on this important event.”

The resource panelists include:

  • Jeffrie Chappell, business development manager at Consumers Credit Union
  • Ed Garner, regional director of West Michigan Small Business Development Center
  • Attah Obande, director of dream fulfillment at SpringGR
  • Tyler Petersen, small business lender at Opportunity Resource Fund
  • Venard Roberson, commercial lender at Northern Initiatives

The small business panelists include:

  • Richard Flowers, founder of Reliable Medical Transport Inc.
  • Sara Knoester, president of Mixed Staffing and Recruiting
  • Ruben Ramos, partner of R&R Mechanical
  • Gina Van Timmeren, owner of Gina’s Boutique

Kyama Kitavi, DGRI’s economic development manager, said the expo would provide small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with a comprehensive view of the small business resource landscape.

“Attendees will learn about programs, assistance and opportunities without having to be part of a particular network,” Kitavi said. “This event will strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing an opportunity for resource providers to engage with entrepreneurs who they might not have been able to reach and learn more about what other organizations and institutions are doing in the small business environment.”

While paid parking is available at DeVos Place, attendees who plan to drive to the event are encouraged to park in the Area 9 lot and take the free DASH bus to DeVos Place.

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