Businesses owned by people of color are not scaling. In Grand Rapids, less than 1% of businesses bringing in $250k or more a year are owned by a person of color. 98% of business revenue in Grand Rapids comes from white-owned businesses.
The Grand Rapids Chamber’s Center for Economic Inclusion (CEI) is West Michigan’s first holistic case management program and direct service provider serving minority entrepreneurs and businesses. The Center for Economic Inclusion builds upon and creates an umbrella structure for current Chamber offerings to promote economic inclusion, including: West Michigan Minority Contractors Program, Mosaic Business Collective, Business Growth Workshops, ELEVATE and more.
The CEI delivers services for both early-stage businesses requiring incubator services with technical-focused outcomes, and emerging companies requiring accelerator services with growth-focused outcomes.
The core services and activities of the CEI are as follows:
Business Growth Workshops support scaling businesses and share best practices by providing hands-on time with subject matter experts. Topics and speakers are curated to give business leaders access to experts and create a support system of businesses in similar stages.
ELEVATE increases capacity for minority-owned businesses by removing obstacles through entrepreneurial mentorship and business education, creating a solid foundation for success. The program includes mentorship, capacity building, and relationship building.
West Michigan Minority Contractors After Hours events provide attendees the opportunity to connect with peers and gain potential business referrals. These social hour events provide a platform for buyers to connect with local minority-owned business construction professionals, as well as remove barriers for smaller construction companies to enter the market.