Take a look back at GROW over the last 30 years.

Watch our short video with stories from several of our clients, then peruse the timeline to see key milestones and important people who’ve been a part of GROW for 30 years and counting.


A Look at GROW

1989
February, 1989

Original Steering Committee

Original Steering Committee

Meet the original steering committee members who helped LeAnne Moss in the creation of GROW. There are many familiar names from West Michigan, and many of these individuals are still supportive of GROW today.

March, 1989

LeAnne Moss has idea for GROW

LeAnne Moss has idea for GROW

The first steering committee meeting is held. LeAnne approached several leaders in the community to discuss the creation of an organization to serve women in low-income households and assist them in creating economic independence through business ownership.

April, 1989

GROW is Founded

GROW is Founded

LeAnne wrote a grant request to Dyer Ives Foundation to initially fund the organization

1990
August, 1990

First MYOB Class Graduation

First MYOB Class Graduation

The first MYOB (Minding Your Own Business) class graduates. MYOB was a 16-week long program where participants met each week to work on different aspects of their business plan and development. This included classroom training, homework and other assessments.

1995
September, 1995

GROW becomes a Certified Women’s Business Center

It was in 1995 that GROW became a Certified Women’s Business Center through the Small Business Administration Office of Women Business Ownership.

1996
April, 1996
1998
April, 1998
2000
June, 2000

Rita VanderVen becomes Executive Director

Rita VanderVen becomes Executive Director

Rita Vanderven joined GROW in June 2000 as Executive Director. She would lead the organization through 2008

 

2010
April, 2010

Anonymous Grant Paves Way for Microloan Program

GROW received an anonymous grant that paved the way to becoming an SBA intermediary Microlender. The organizations first 5 loans are made with this grant.

2011
July, 2011

Microloan Manager Added to Staff

July 2011, GROW hired our first microloan manager to expand the lending program.

 

2012
March, 2012

Intermediary Micro Lender under the SBA.

In 2012, GROW became an intermediary Micro Lender under the SBA (Small Business Administration).

2013
August, 2013

Microloan Program Triples Lending Capacity

In August 2013, the GROW Microloan program tripled it’s lending capacity from $200k to $600k, allowing us to provide even more funding to local businesses.

September, 2013

Small Business GPS Series

Small Business GPS Series

September 2013 – GROW adjusted the MYOB program to provide classes in smaller “clusters”. The new Small Business Growth and Planning Series was formed.

2015
July, 2015

AWE Rebranded as Established Division

AWE Rebranded as Established Division

In 2015, the (AWE) Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs was rebranded as the Established Division of GROW.  Women business owners who have reached a certain point in their careers have needs that are very different from those who are just starting out. That’s why we created the Established Division of GROW. It is a membership by invitation only group, intended for those who are looking for opportunities to learn, network, and share with other successful women.

2017
January, 2017
April, 2017

Launched EmpowerHER Program

Launched EmpowerHER Program

Spring 2017, GROW launched the EmpowerHER program for second-stage businesses. This is a cohort-based, year-long training program for women entrepreneurs who have been in business for at least a year and are looking for assistance with stabilizing and/or growing their companies.

October, 2017

Received CDFI Designation

Received CDFI Designation

In October 2017, GROW received the Certified Designated Financial Institute (CDFI) award, expanding lending levels. Read the news release here.

 

November, 2017

Received GR Chamber Rising Star Award

Received GR Chamber Rising Star Award

In November 2017, GROW was Recognized as a Rising Star, as part of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summit with Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

2018
January, 2018
May, 2018

SBA Michigan Women’s Business Center of Excellence

SBA Michigan Women’s Business Center of Excellence

In May 2018, GROW was named SBA Michigan Women’s Business Center of Excellence.

 

July, 2018

Expanded to the Lakeshore

Expanded to the Lakeshore

In July 2018, GROW expanded our programming & added full-time staff in Muskegon, inside the GVSU Innovation Hub.

2019
April, 2019

Nonprofit Champion Award from WMHCC

Nonprofit Champion Award from WMHCC

In April 2019, GROW Received the Non-Profit Champion Award from West Michigan Hispanic Chamber.

September, 2019

GROW Celebrates 15th Anniversary

GROW Celebrates 15th Anniversary

In 2004 GROW Celebrated the organizations 15th Anniversary with and audio CD, titled “Voices of GROW.” Check back soon so you can listen to a few of these great stories.

September, 2019

Patricia Duthler joins as Executive Director

Patricia Duthler joins as Executive Director

GROW welcomed Patricia Duthler as Executive Director from 2008 until 2010.

September, 2019

AWE Incorporated into GROW

AWE Incorporated into GROW

In 2010, the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs was incorporated into GROW programs to serve second-stage women business owners.

September, 2019

Bonnie Nawara joins GROW as CEO

Bonnie Nawara joins GROW as CEO

In September 2010 GROW welcomed Bonnie Nawara as CEO of the organization.

September, 2019

CORP! Salute to Diversity Award Winner

CORP! Salute to Diversity Award Winner

In September 2019, our staff traveled to Detroit for CORP! Magazine’s Salute to Diversity Awards Celebration.

October, 2019

Celebrating 30 Years of GROW

Celebrating 30 Years of GROW

Throughout 2019 we celebrated the 30 years of helping women, and men, to start and build their own businesses. We do so through continued support in training classes, business counseling, mentorship, connecting them to resources and of course our expanding loan programs.