Human Resources, Nonprofits, and Small Business & Startups

Grand Rapids chamber names inaugural Elevate class

May 16, 2016
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Chamber produces Minority Business Showcase
The annual Minority Business Showcase by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce features dozens of businesses. Photo via

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has named the inaugural class for a program designed to grow minority-owned businesses.

Five local entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in the chamber’s first ELEVATE Minority Business program: Noël Cueller of Primera Plastics; Michael Davenport of Jireh Metal Products; Javier Olvera of Supermercado Mexico; Jodi Vanden Berg of Advantage Mechanical Refrigeration; and Theodore Vaughn III, of Tolman’s Wholesale Meats.

The class was chosen through an application process to ensure participants, which will not exceed more than 10 per class, meet eligibility criteria and are well-positioned to benefit from the program.

“ELEVATE Minority Business helps bridge a much-needed business gap in our region,” said Sonya Hughes, VP of inclusion, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “These company owners will discover practical ways to strengthen their operations and expand their overall capacity, while cultivating actionable relationships within the West Michigan business community.”

Supported through a grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, ELEVATE officially launches this month with former chamber board chair and former president and CEO of H & H Metal Sources, Brian Harris, acting in the role of program manager.

The program

ELEVATE Minority Business is a hands-on business development program designed to accelerate the growth of minority-owned businesses in West Michigan.

Participants receive support tailored to the specific needs and goals of their businesses, including analysis and advice from direct consulting, peer roundtables and outside expertise from a personal advisory team.

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