Grow Your Business


Connie’s Cakes, a provider of tasty treats since 1995, has been selling custom cakes on South Division for many years. Topped with the best homemade butter cream, they specialize in wedding cakes and baked goods for any occasion. Mary Scheidel purchased the business from her aunt in 2010 and has continued the baking legacy started by Connie Hennip and Wanda Faber.

The business got a boost from Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), a Small Business Administration Women’s Business Center that helps women and men to start, grow, and maintain their small businesses with a number of free and low-cost services. Mary received a microloan, a relatively small loan to help business owners who may not be able to receive funds from traditional banks. Mary used the funds to purchase needed materials for her business, and now continues to prosper with delivering custom cake services to Grand Rapids.

One year after launching a pilot microloan program benefitting Kent County businesses, GROW has joined the ranks of only six other Michigan non-profits as a Small Business Administration (SBA) intermediary microlender. GROW is the only microlender in West Michigan to offer SBA microloans. These loans help small businesses in Grand Rapids—like Connie’s Cakes—to get off the ground, increase their inventory, and serve customers, driving the local economy.

As of January 11, 2013, Connie’s Cakes is operating out of the Kingsley Building at 1416 Robinson Road in Eastown Grand Rapids. Mary is excited to be a part of  this vibrant neighborhood, thanks to the growth of her business and the redevelopment of the Kingsley Building.

If someone would like to get involved with GROW or find out more about how to start, grow, or maintain their small business, they can attend a free Introduction to GROW orientation on the first or second Thursday of the month, at either noon or 6PM. The sessions last one hour, are completely free with no obligation, and get you connected to the best resources for small business owners and people hoping to achieve financial independence through business ownership. Introduction to GROW sessions are held in the YWCA at the GROW office on 25 Sheldon Blvd SE.