CMS Consulting Thriving After Shutdown

Connie Maxim Sparrow of Sparrow Consulting at her home in Muskegon, Michigan, on November 26, 2019. (Brittany Greeson for Leafly)

Consuelo Maxim-Sparrow is a problem solver. In 2016, while working as the grant manager for Muskegon County she was in a meeting to address budget constraints when she offered a solution. 
“I offered to go off as an independent contractor,” she said. “I did it, and off I went.” 
And so became CMS Consulting. Today, the business is a dynamic consulting firm that serves a variety of public, private, and non-profit organizations. They specialize in the fields of organization development, public administration, grant funding and financing, risk management, strategic planning, occupational health and safety, emergency management and strategic planning.  
For Consuelo Maxim-Sparrow, running a business was a natural fit that allowed her to be present in all areas of her life. 
“One thing that I absolutely love about owning my own business is that I can be a mom, a wife, a friend,” she said. “I enjoy that I control my destiny.” 
When coronavirus brought with it the mandatory shutdown of businesses across the state, Maxim-Sparrow says she had already seen the writing on the wall. In 2009, she worked in pandemic planning for the State of Michigan, and she recognized the signs of an impending shutdown. In December, three months before businesses closed en mass, she shuttered her brick and mortar office and set up her team to work remotely. But even this preparedness did not insulate her from the sudden and stunning impact of COVID 19 as her client base immediately dried up.  
“I thought my business was done,” she said.  
As the pandemic dragged on, her business checking account depleted, until there was just $600 left. That, combined with the stress of navigating federal aid through systems that weren’t built for the historic volumes of people seeking assistance, left her overwhelmed. 
“The stress was just … it was so much,” she expressed. 
Maxim-Sparrow connected with GROW through a referral from the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce. She received a COVID-19 Working Capital Loan, a low-interest loan designed by the organization to provide swift assistance to borrowers impacted by the pandemic.  
“Thank God for GROW,” she said. “The GROW helped me build my bank account back up and honor my prior agreements.” 
Maxim-Sparrow also notes that working with GROW was a relief after spending hours on hold for federal aid, only to be disconnected.  
“It was so nice to talk to an actual human that cared,” she expressed. “They were friendly, helpful and quick when I needed it. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived.”  
Today, she says CMS Consulting is thriving as she has seen an increase in new start-up clients. 
“A whole lot of entrepreneurs were born out of COVID,” she said. “People are starting businesses right now. It’s amazing.”


Click here to learn more about COVID-19 recovery loans available through GROW.