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Become a Certified Business | Business First Series

October 21, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am EDT


Do you run a woman-, minority-, or veteran-owned business enterprise?

Join Southwest Michigan First and our session speakers to learn the steps required to take advantage of these opportunities: If your company is owned, 51 percent or more, by a woman, minority, and/or veteran, it is eligible to become certified in the state of Michigan. By becoming a certified business, you can access additional contracting opportunities with major corporations, educational and governmental institutions, potential grant funding, and more! Not only can this certification give you a greater chance of attracting and securing business, but it can also enhance your efforts to diversify and market your services to a broader audience.

On October 21, Southwest Michigan First’s Business First Series discussion will feature experienced leaders who have supported organizations in the certification process. Our guests will walk us through the process of becoming certified as a woman-, minority-, or veteran-owned business enterprise and provide an overview of opportunities available to certified businesses. Please come prepared with questions because there will be ample time for Q&A.

Session Speakers

  • Albert Louis |Director of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Services at Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council
  • Veronica Johnson | Director of Certification at Great Lakes Women’s Business Council
  • Cherise Gary | Certification Specialist at Great Lakes Women’s Business Council Southwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)

About Southwest Michigan First’s Business First Series

Become a Certified Business is part of a series of free business discussions hosted by Southwest Michigan First. These sessions are designed to strengthen and grow businesses of all sizes in our community by focusing on the topics most important right now—financial planning, brand presence, utilizing technology in the day-to-day, culture, and much more. These virtual Zoom sessions bring together the knowledge of experts and foster discussion between community leaders and small business owners. Learn more about Southwest Michigan First.

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Congratulations to Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry for receiving his first loan through Northern Initiatives. With help from his SCORE mentor, Cheri Bales, Gregory did a fantastic job on developing his business plan and showing real entrepreneurial spirit. We wish you much success, and look forward to your upward movement. You are a wonderful role model.

—Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry

I appreciate your ears for listening, your eyes that see my vision and your heart that makes you who you are.  I thank you for your time. You are making a difference.

—Shawntel Lindsey, Director, The Artbor Community Connections Center

The WMed Innovation Center is a perfect environment for innovation to grow and become a successful commercial enterprise.


WMU Business Connection logo

Whether you are seeking a research partner or want to enlist the help of student groups in developing business plans, or just looking for ways to engage with WMU, the Business Connection office can find the resource to help move your business forward.


A loan (from Local Initiatives Support Corporation) helped expand our cafe to triple our seating, add a kids space, increase much needed staff work areas, and make other improvements to the space.


MEL logo

The Michigan eLibrary (MeL) is the State of Michigan’s digital library. It has excellent resources available to Michigan residents at no cost.


Western Michigan University’s Starting Gate helped me take an idea and transform it into a much more attainable reality. Whether providing talks with investors and business owners or accountability, the ultimate goal is helping your business succeed.

—Peter Shutt

Kalamazoo County Land Bank logo

The Kalamazoo Land Bank did robust community engagement around the vision and gave us something to work with that was solidly desired by people in the neighborhood. Having a vision meant we had to protect it. That’s something I thank the Land Bank for. It was difficult. It didn’t make anything faster or easier, but we got a better project in the end as a result of it.

—Matt Hollander

Buy Local logo

Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo is a hard working grassroots group focused on the greater Kalamazoo community and its small businesses. Their events and networking opportunities are the best!

—Cheri Bales

SBDC logo

Michigan SBDC is a great company providing top notch service to local businesses all over Michigan. The consultants are professional and the student workers contribute with excellent work!

—Martin Herman Sorensen