Helping small businesses in Kalamazoo.

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Catalyst University Realize Your Remarkable Impact How will you leave your mark?

January 26 @ 8:30 am - 4:00 pm EST


If you can’t come to Catalyst University 2022 in-person, we have a virtual option for you! This last year has been almost as crazy as 2020, but remarkable, nonetheless.

Energize your New Year by joining us for an amazing day filled with world-class speakers, career-advancing connections and unforgettable experiences all combined in one action-packed day. This year’s conference is designed to spark fresh ideas and motivate you to new heights in 2022.

Back and better than ever, Southwest Michigan First is excited to announce that Catalyst University is on our agenda—and should be on yours too!

On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, experience the magic on-screen from the comfort of your home or office.

Tickets are $99 for the one-day experience. Your ticket includes:

  • LIVE viewing of all speakers during the day
  • Interactive chat and networking with other virtual attendees
  • Virtual bookstore to purchase your favorite speaker’s book
  • Opportunities to support local small business owners at Makers’ Mart
  • Access to playback videos for 14 days post-event


January 26
8:30 am - 4:00 pm EST
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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