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Partnership Supports Diverse Small Business Lending in Muskegon County

<November 7, 2017> The Community Foundation for Muskegon County is partnering with Northern Initiatives to increase small business lending in Muskegon and surrounding communities. This partnership will provide small business owners with increased access to capital and business services.

Northern Initiatives recently received both a grant and Program Related Investment (PRI) from the Community Foundation that will be used specifically in Muskegon County. The PRI is in the amount of $500,000 and will provide capital for underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners for whom access to capital has been elusive. Additionally, the Foundation is granting dollars to support the opening Northern Initiatives’ Muskegon-based office, production of marketing materials and language translation of loan materials for individuals who do not speak English as a native language.

“Small businesses are the economic backbone of our economy and the ‘salt’ of our communities in that they differentiate place,” expressed Dennis West, president of Northern Initiatives.  “Throughout Michigan, we see small businesses enjoying the benefits of a growing market preference toward that which is local, fresh, natural and authentic, and we see so many seeds of that market’s growth in your community.  We’re pleased that the Community Foundation for Muskegon County has invested in us to bring capital and knowledge building supports to their community and we look forward to a rich and long partnership for the benefit of the Muskegon County residents.”

“We’re proud of our support that helps Northern Initiatives get established in our community,” said Chris A. McGuigan, Foundation president/CEO.

“This is a first small step toward economic equity.  Individuals who don’t have access to traditional bank capital can now find support for their entrepreneurial dreams. More than just a loan, it also means business support, coaching and mentoring – leveling the playing field and increasing the likelihood of success. A great community investment,” said McGuigan.

This award is one of a handful helping to kick start Northern Initiatives’ expansion to the urban communities of the southern Lower Peninsula.  For the last 25 years, Northern Initiatives has served a rural market of the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula where it has made over 1,000 loans, for which one third have been to start up entrepreneurs.  Initially, Northern Initiatives will focus on the communities of Muskegon and Grand Rapids, and work to build a presence of lenders, support staff and coaches in West Michigan in the year ahead.

Anyone interested in starting or growing their small business is encouraged to begin the application process now.  An electronic pre-application and additional information is available on the Northern Initiatives website at