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Economic Inclusion Summit

May 8 @ 8:00 am - 11:30 am

New in 2024, the Economic Inclusion Summit brings regional leaders together to gain tools and momentum to tackle economic inclusion in West Michigan. Minority-owned business owners and community partners are invited to help develop a thriving, diverse ecosystem in our community and tackle the hard questions that come with this topic.

Key topics include:

  • The state of economic inclusion in Grand Rapids
  • Diversifying procurement practices
  • Creating access to capital
  • Fostering economic inclusion through community construction projects
  • Supporting New American-owned and immigrant-owned businesses
  • The Way Forward: Making Grand Rapids the model of economic inclusion
Event Agenda:
8:00 a.m. Breakfast & Networking

8:30 a.m. Welcome
James Byl, 2024 Grand Rapids Chamber Board Chair
Jenny Waugh, Vice President of Economic Growth, Grand Rapids Chamber
8:50 a.m. State of Economic Inclusion in Grand Rapids

Noele Stith, Senior Design Partner, Design Group Intl.
Micalah Suser, Business Analyst, Meijer

9:05 a.m. Panel Discussion: Diversifying Procurement Practices

Shelton Kilby, Senior Director of Facility Operations and Construction, Corewell Health

Robert Lundquist, Manager, Global Supply Management Services, Steelcase

Jessi Goldner, Director of Strategic Engagement & Compliance, Waseyabek Development Company

Moderator: Laura Hopson, President & CEO, EM Services

9:35 a.m. Break

10:10 a.m. Panel Discussion: Addressing the Access to Capital Barrier 

Carlton Shelton, Senior Loan Officer, Opportunity Resource Fund

Marcus Jackson, Community Impact Manager II, Fifth-Third Bank

Joseph Malone, Vice President of Operations, Holo Footwear

Moderator: Omar Cuevas, Senior Vice President of Investor & Corporate Relations, Grand Rapids Chamber

10:30 a.m. Fostering Economic Inclusion Through Local Construction Projects

James Peacock III, Economic Opportunity Organizer, DGRI

Brad Mathis, Senior Vice President, Rockford Construction

10:55 a.m. Doing Business as an Immigrant – A Discussion

Linus De Paoli, Owner, 3 Gatos Brewery

Evelyn Esparza- Gonzalez, Executive Director, Hispanic Center of West Michigan

11:10am Strategies for Supporting New American and Immigrant-Owned Businesses

Jay Ahmed, SVP, Market President, Highpoint Community Bank

11:25 a.m. The Way Forward: Making Grand Rapids the Model of Economic Inclusion

Maegan Frierson, Director of System Building, KConnect

11:40 a.m. Closing Remarks

Jenny Waugh, Vice President of Economic Growth, Grand Rapids Chamber




Non Member:


Corporate Table (10 tickets included):




Date & Time:

May 8 @ 8:00 am - 11:30 am


The Goei Center

818 Butterworth St SW
Grand Rapids, 49504 United States


Featured Speakers

Evelyn Esparza-Gonzalez


Hispanic Center of Western Michigan

James Byl


Multi-Automatic Tool & Supply Co.

James Peacock III

Economic Opportunity Organizer

Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.

Jay Ahmed

Senior Vice President, Market President

Highpoint Community Bank

Jessi Goldner

Director of Strategic Engagement & Compliance

Waséyabek Development Company, LLC

Joseph Malone

Vice President of Operations

HOLO Footwear

Laura Hopson


EM Services

Linus De Paoli


3 Gatos Brewing

Maegan Frierson

Director of System Building


Marcus Jackson

Vice President, Community Impact Manager

Fifth Third Bank

Micalah Suser

Business Analyst, Consumables


Noele Stith

Senior Process Consultant & Senior Design Partner

Design Group International

Event Sponsors

Premier Sponsor

Ferris State University FSU

Event Underwriters

Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Care Network of Michigan Corewell Health

Executive Sponsors

Amway   Crains Crain's Grand Rapids Stacked Logo   Be Independent Bank  Waseyabek

Lead Supporters

GRCC Grand Rapids Community College    Grand Valley State University   MSU Federal Credit Union  PNC Bank

Chamber Champions

GRCCT Grand Rapids Center for Community TransformationMercantile Bank PURE Architects  Rockford Construction Logo

Furniture Sponsor

Interphase Interiors

Become a Sponsor

Interested in sponsorship? Contact Yadira Garza-Malone to learn more.

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