The Focus on Diversity: Resources, Organizations, and More!


An incredibly diverse community, West Michigan is home to folks of all backgrounds. Here at GROW, we love that, and use it as a force of motivation to push us forward and ensure that we’re accessible for all entrepreneurs in our community. And as African American owned small businesses are up 400% in the last year, this is a great time to talk about what resources are offered in our community.

The role that women-owned and minority-owned businesses play in the greater GR area is irreplaceable, building our entrepreneurial economy and providing the community with products and service all across the board. West Michigan loves local and our entrepreneurial ecosystem is certainly blooming, but it’s important to know what resources you have at your disposal.

In this blog, we’ll discuss resources, organizations, and groups ready to assist you with all of your business-focused needs, and since it’s Women’s Small Business Month, we’re excited to highlight some great diverse local businesses!


Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Did you know that the city of Grand Rapids has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion? This office promotes community, workforce, and supplier diversity for employees and residents in the area, ensuring that the city complies with civil rights laws. This is a GREAT resource for all things diversity and inclusion and this office is prepared to provide you with everything you need should you have questions or face specific challenges. In addition, they create Mosaic Magazine, a publication written to keep you updated on racial equity initiatives, training opportunities, and special events and projects. Download the Spring 2018 issue for FREE here!


GRABB (Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses) Local works to drive economic development and empowerment in the area. With one of the largest collections of black businesses in an online directory, GRABB creates awareness and visibility for businesses has one of the area’s largest online directories of Black businesses. GRABB creates awareness and visibility for black-owned businesses to cultivate support and assist potential customers.

If you’re looking to get involved now, GRABB is hosting a #30Days30Dollars challenge throughout October, encouraging the community to commit to shifting $30 of their monthly spending to black-owned businesses. Learn more about this challenge and find a list of businesses here! With programs, initiatives, and a full events calendar, this is an incredible resource for our community.

GROW (of course)!

With an incredibly diverse client base, 39.2% of which are minorities, we’re dedicated to helping entrepreneurs make connections, take advantage of our services and resources, and gain confidence in their ambitions. At every stage of your business, from the idea written on a napkin to moving into a brick and mortar property, we’re here for you each step of the way!

In 2017, we were honored to receive the Rising Star Award by Supporting Diversity and Inclusion at the Diversity Visionary Awards put on by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. We were recognized by WGVU Public Media with an “I Have Made a Difference” Community Award for Inclusion as well. At GROW, we believe that diversity makes us stronger and we are proudly committed to serving the diverse groups throughout West Michigan. From participating in special community events to holding business classes in Spanish, we consistently look for ways to expand on our offerings to the entrepreneurs in the GR area.

Read our 2017 Economic Impact Report here to read more stats and stories about our involvement in the community and within diverse groups.

Diverse in Business

I Ride

Alex Cruz of I Ride is our most recent success story. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, I Ride provides high-end ground transportation options to individuals, teams, and companies looking for an alternative to air travel. Whether they have a strong aversion to flight, need room to work in transit, or have a large group that needs to collaborate in comfort from point A to point B, I Ride has affordable options for any number of people! Alex says it best: “Don’t get discouraged in the difficult moments, no business ever prospered without hard work and overcoming adversity.” Getting to play a role in overcoming hardships is what makes our work worthwhile. Read more about I Ride here.

JoJo’s House of Beauty

A beloved community business, JoJo’s House of Beauty is a multicultural, diverse salon designed to serve women and men of all color and hair texture. Their goal is to uplift, motivate, educate and inspire clients by providing the highest quality service to meet their needs. Josephine White, owner of JoJo’s, has been involved with GROW since 2011, going through several programs and participating in our yearlong EmpowerHER program. We were lucky to have her speak on our Annual Seeds of GROWth Panel last year and are honored to be a part of her business journey. Learn more about her business here.

Chuck’s Auto Repair

Charles and Elissa Roberts own a successful business in Chuck’s Auto Repair, but they’re truly much more than that. You’ve never met a couple more community-focused than these two! With a location close to the DeVos Children’s Hospital and a dedication to being as involved in the local area as possible, Charles and Elissa are an amazing piece of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. They’ve been a great client in our microloan program and are a remarkable example of how funding can push your business forward. For more information about Chuck’s Auto Repair, head here.

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, there are few places better to be than West Michigan. With entrepreneurs all over the area from all different backgrounds, Grand Rapids provides a great environment for creating, growing, and sustaining a business. If you have any questions about the programs we offer or how we can connect you with any of the resources listed, don’t hesitate to contact us today!