September Entrepreneurial Insider


This month Karen Benson, our business development officer based in the Muskegon Innovation Hub at GVSU, had a chance to sit down with Shelley Irwin at WGVU Radio to share a little bit more about our recent expansion, her role there and how we continue to expand to serve entrepreneurs on the Lakeshore. Listen to the episode here.

Karen brings more than 20 years of experience in business and economic development.

In her past roles, she has been very involved in working with small businesses. While at the Grand Haven Area Chamber she was a Certified Small Business Development Counselor. She also spent time with the Right Place in Grand Rapids and connected with GROW and Bonnie Nawara (our CEO) at that time as a part of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in West Michigan. Now that Karen is a part of our team she spends time promoting the additional tools and access entrepreneurs have to more technical support and guidance, especially around our loan programs for budding entrepreneurs.

Karen lives on the lakeshore and has worked in Muskegon in the past, so she knows the community well and is aware of all the resources available to serve entrepreneurs and small business owners. We’re looking forward to her continued collaboration and networking with all of these organizations.

Business Counseling on the Lakeshore

Business counseling can range from idea exploration, or someone who has started their business and wants to take their business to the next level. We offer an exceptional portfolio of workshops, classes, mentors and other resources for these entrepreneurs – regardless of where they are in their business development stage. We also collaborate, share and connect entrepreneurs to resources through many organizations that serve small businesses like SBA, SBDC, Start Garden, GVSU Innovation Hub and more.

Did You Know?

GROW is a Community Development Financial Institution/CDFI lender as well, and can currently offer loans from $2,500 to $50,000.  Read more about CDFI and all of our small business lending options.

What Types of Business Training Workshops does GROW Offer?

  • Intro to GROW Workshops in Grand Rapids and in Muskegon
  • Start Smart – Business Model Canvas
  • Small Business Growth and Planning Series (GPS)
  • Business Basics Cluster
  • Marketing Strategies Cluster
  • Financial Awareness Cluster
  • Social Media Marketing & Facebook Micro-Credential Workshop
  • Google Workshops
  • GROW Connects Workshops

Shelley Irwin will lead a workshop in Grand Rapids on October 25th from 9-11am: Starring YOU… How to Talk to the Media.  Shelley will also provide this same workshop on the Lakeshore in Muskegon on November 14th from 3 – 5 pm.

Learn more about upcoming workshops on GROW’s website:  Events Calendar.

What is the Muskegon BRT?

The Muskegon Business Resource Team or BRT was developed following the combination of lakeshore and Grand Rapids ecosystem resources. This team includes leaders from area organizations focused on helping increase economic activity and building the local businesses here in the Muskegon area. The BRT is a group with the different resources from SBA, The Innovation HUB, SCORE, SBDC, GROW, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber, and many others to offer resources to entrepreneurs. You can find out more about Muskegon BRT here.

Important Upcoming Annual Events

Seeds of Growth Awards Luncheon & Fundraiser, October 11th from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. @ Amway Grand Plaza

Sparkle Celebration, December 6th from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. @ Cascade Country Club.

All details about these and other upcoming events are available throughout our website, where you can learn more about all upcoming events, and the different business workshops we offer.