Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

Keeping Muskegon Safe

MUSKEGON, MI – The Muskegon County Silent Observer program is gaining in popularity as Muskegon becomes one of the state’s most popular tourism and living destinations. “Safety is number one for residents and tourists,” says Tom Schultz, Chair of the Silent Observer Advisory Committee. “We are pleased to announce that in 2017, Silent Observer received a record number of tips along with 9 approved reward payouts compared to 1 approved reward payout in 2016,” states Schultz.

This is an indicator that law enforcement is committed to using this unique public/private partnership to keep the area safe. The Silent Observer program uses high-tech software to protect the identity of residents submitting tips. A tipster can submit an anonymous tip by phone, the Silent Observer website, or through the Silent Observer App. So far in 2017, Silent Observer has approved $4,350 in rewards to loyal citizen participants.

“Not only is law enforcement comfortable with the program, residents now understand that they can remain anonymous when providing information”, says Schultz. The Silent Observer program received over 20% more tips this year compared to 2016.

As the holidays are approaching, law enforcement encourages all members of the community to take extra care when locking your car doors and homes. Do your part to help make Muskegon the best place to live, work, and play.

The Silent Observer program is funded by private donations and contributions from the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. For more information, go to the Silent Observer website at

Muskegon County’s 2017 Successes

2017 – A Banner Year!

All signs pointed to growth when Grand Valley State University’s Dr. Paul Isely kicked off 2017 with an energizing forecast for Muskegon County. The economist was spot on when he predicted a strong year for economic development. Here is a recap of a number of successes:

•  KL Outdoor relocated a new corporate office to Muskegon with expansion plans ahead
•  Mercy Health broke ground on 9 story building
•  Muskegon gained another Cruise Ship Line, Victory
•  Norton Shores created a redevelopment plan for sites along Seminole Road and Henry Street
•  Several new housing developments in progress: Odeno Housing Development, Chandy Acres, Terrace Point Landing, and High Point Flats
•  MCC’s Strurrus Technology Center opened in downtown Muskegon
•  Remaining stacks at Sappi Paper Mill Property demolished
•  First Port City Criterium took place downtown Muskegon
•  Rob Riegler from Lakeside Surfaces named 2017 Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year
•  Research shows Watch Muskegon campaign is improving Muskegon’s Image
•  Road Construction along Colby Street in Whitehall complete
•  Record breaking year for many festivals and events
•  Muskegon County Convention Center plans announced
•  Earlier flights and more connections at Muskegon County Airport
•  Imagine Muskegon Lake planning begins
•  Harvey Street Corridor continues to grow and expand
•  Area Manufactures continue to expand and train workers

It is evident that 2017 was a great year for Muskegon County! Statistics from 2017 and the economic forecast for 2018 will be presented Friday, January 26 by Paul Isely at the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Business for Breakfast.

Photos of Muskegon Win Prizes!

familyMuskegon, MI – During the month of July, Watch Muskegon is hosting a photo contest on social media. The public is encouraged to visit Muskegon County, take a picture that captures their experience and share it to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #ThisIsMuskegon. A panel of judges will select a winning photo in August with a grand prize of $1,000 cash and other Muskegon-focused items including stays at various hotels, passes to museums and festivals, and gift cards for local restaurants. A full description of the grand prize package, along with all the contest details, is available on the Watch Muskegon website.

kidsurfingMuskegon is the ideal location for the lakeshore lifestyle with award winning beaches, state parks, festivals, restaurants, and other attractions. Find your favorite Muskegon County attraction, tag your photo #ThisIsMuskegon and you are automatically entered into the contest.

The contest is part of the Watch Muskegon campaign, which was created to promote the Muskegon area with a focus on economic development, beautification and education. The campaign is currently in year 3, with plans to extend until 2020. To learn more about the contest and the Watch Muskegon campaign, visit

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce – About

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is the premier business membership organization on the lakeshore representing approximately 1,200 businesses and organizations. The Muskegon Chamber represents businesses of every size and type all over West Michigan. The Chamber is celebrating more than 120 years in operation working to sustain an environment for business success through community leadership, promotion, inclusive business advocacy and valued member services. The Muskegon Chamber is a four-time award winning Chamber, being named Chamber of the Year for the State of Michigan in 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2015 by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals.


Jodi Kittle
Communications Manager
Energetic Marketing Guru
Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
P 231-724-3174

Announcing the Future 15 Finalists!

Join us for a special Business After Hours recognizing young professionals making a difference along the Muskegon Lakeshore!

Plus – Meet area interns and new professionals joining us following the annual Interns on Deck program.

Celebrate this year’s Future 15 Finalists

future15Bryan Lambert, Brightway Insurance
Arisha Coffee, Community enCompass
Jason Bertoia, Every Woman’s Place
Heather Halter, Family Financial Credit Union
Lauren Meldrum, HealthWest
Walter Christophersen, IBEW Local 275
Michael Ramsey, Mercy Health
Corey Davis, Muskegon Area Transit System
Dave Fredricks, Muskegon Family Care
Tim Lopez, Muskegon Rescue Mission
Jared Passchier, Norton Shores Police Department
Brian Leibrandt, Parmenter O’Toole
Spencer Boertman, Steak “N Egger
La Tonya Beene, United Way of the Lakeshore
Ami Gongalski, West Michigan Law

Thank you to everyone who nominated a young professional this year. We received so many great applications!

New Artists Coming to Muskegon

 Final artists for this year’s 2017 Muskegon Lakeshore Art Festival have been selected. “We are pleased that this year, jurors selected local favorites as well as up and coming artists who will bring new style and energy to this event. Approximately 110 new artists will be participating for the first time,” according to Carla Flanders, Lakeshore Art Festival Director. Over 300 artists and crafters from all over the country have been selected to showcase and sell their art July 7th and 8th in downtown Muskegon.

A jury of artists and craft professionals review each application to verify all pieces are unique and handmade by the artist.  “Careful attention is made to make sure there is variety and diversity of items displayed throughout the show,” says Carla Flanders. The focus of the Lakeshore Art Festival is to present one-of-a-kind art to attendees that is available to purchase, not just for display.

New this year is a Student Art Showcase for young artists (K-12 grade) that will be displaying and selling art for the first time in their lives!  This special area has been organized in partnership with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District. Additionally, the show has created openings for Emerging Artists. These limited spaces are reserved for artists just learning how to apply to and become part of a large scale art event.

The festival will continue to host “fine art” in beautiful Hackley Park, while handmade crafts will be displayed on beautiful Western Avenue and 4th Street.  Artists travel from as far away as Texas and California to participate in the destination event which has been named one of the “Best Small Town Art Shows in America” according to

The Lakeshore Art Festival includes street performers, a children’s area, music and food.   Additional NEW 2017 festival features will be announced at a later date.  For more information go to

Muskegon County Silent Observer Steps Up Their Game

The Muskegon County Silent Observer Committee has invested in new technology to increase the number and quality of crime tips entering the system. “The new software makes it easy for people to provide information in a completely confidential manner”, says Tom Schultz, Chair of the Silent Observer Advisory Committee. Police have reported that the quality of the information they are receiving is much improved in recent months. Recently, a Muskegon Area Resident received $1,000 for information that led to a murder conviction. “This new interactive software is making the process more effective for people who provide tips and for members of law enforcement who follow up on the tips received”, according to Schultz.

The software used in the program has always concealed the identity of the tipster, however, the new software in the Silent Observer app allows for more dialogue in a way that is completely anonymous. The tipster is given a code number for communications that blocks out any phone number from being seen or recorded. It is important that the tipster monitors their own code number to see if their tip qualifies for an award once a conviction is obtained. No identification is required to pick up the cash rewards, only the correct code number. A tipster can submit a tip by phone, the Silent Observer website, or through the Silent Observer App.

Over the years, the Advisory Committee has developed an air tight system that works to protect the identity of area residents as well as the officers involved. “It is a win/win for helping to keep our community safe”, says Schultz. For more information, go to

Cruise Ships Seeking Muskegon’s Deep Water

cruiseshipMuskegon’s reputation as a cruise ship port destination is growing! This February, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber President, Cindy Larsen, represented Muskegon’s cruise ship port at the 2017 Great Lakes Waterways Conference in Cleveland, OH.

The conference convenes nearly 200 professionals in the Maritime Industry annually to meet on the industry’s challenges and opportunities. “It was a great opportunity to explain how Muskegon’s deep water port can easily accommodate cruise ships”, said Larsen. Muskegon Lake is nearly 80 feet deep in some areas. “Having a deep water port with arts and cultural attractions within walking distance of a ship dock is very unique. It is the perfect setup for any large vessel exploring the Great Lakes” according to Larsen.

Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Victory Cruise Lines was on the panel at the conference. The Victory cruise ship will be visiting Muskegon for the first time in 2017. The Pearl Mist is already on the Muskegon Port schedule with 10 visits planned for this summer.

For more information, check out the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber’s Cruise Ship page at

Four Potential Retailers for Downtown Muskegon to Pitch in the 321 Go! Competition

MUSKEGON, MI – The 321 Go! retail pitch competition will feature four budding business owners looking to begin a retail business in Downtown Muskegon’s Midtown business district for the summer of 2017.

A unique “pitch competition” will establish a new Downtown Muskegon retailer in the summer of 2017, continuing the momentum of downtown redevelopment.

321 Go! is a collaboration of Downtown Muskegon Now, the Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce to give downtown redevelopment a boost, help establish a new downtown retail outlet and at the same time support the resurgence of Midtown.

The competition comes with a winning basket of business services valued at more than $15,000 and six months free rent in Midtown. The competition partners have selected the four finalists from nearly a dozen applicants for the “pitch” event Thursday, April 13 at the GVSU Muskegon Innovation Hub that also will be a chamber Business After Hours from 5-7 p.m. The competition begins at 5:30 p.m.

The 3,2,1 Go! finalists are:

  • Simply Vintage Design, Sheeka Hawkins owner. The creator of affordable jewelry where every piece will be personally designed and handmade, offering quality over quantity.
  • East of Eden Wellness Spa, Jodi McClain owner. This destination wellness business will offer floatation and dry salt therapy along with message.
  • The Occidental Barbershop, Emily Prow owner. An all-in-one men’s grooming center in a retro, vintage and eclectic environment that will provide both services and products.
  • SkeeTown Nutrition, Shuan Hladki and Rebecca Holtz owners. This nutrition club and shake bar will offer a space for the community to gather for a healthy meal and personalized coaching.

The winning retail business selected by a panel of business experts will need to be ready to open in Midtown in June 2017 and be able to operate at least 18 months, hopefully much longer. Muskegon businessman, entrepreneur of the year and county commissioner Bob Scolnik will emcee the event.

The winning package of business support includes six months free rent at 1144 Third Street in the former Mattson Oldsmobile dealership showroom and office. The rental location is graciously being offered by Brad Martell – a Grand Rapids entrepreneur, property developer and businessman – who purchased the former dealership in 2016 with plans already underway on redeveloping the property.

“Brad has stepped up to support renewed retailing in Downtown Muskegon as part of the rejuvenation of the Third Street Business District now called Midtown,” said Dave Alexander, executive director of Downtown Muskegon Now.

The winning retailer will need to negotiate a one-year lease with the building owner for after the six months free rent. The winning prize package also includes legal, accounting, marketing, architectural and design services. DMN, GVSU and the chamber will also promote the winning business and mentor its owner.

“There is a host of business support services the winner will be able to access through our sponsors and the Muskegon Innovation Hub,” said Kevin Ricco, executive director of the GVSU business hub on the downtown Muskegon Lake shoreline.

Meet Jodi!

If you are interested in learning more about how you can better market your business through your Chamber Membership, Jodi is the person for you!

Jodi Kittle is joining the Chamber Staff as our new Communications Manager. She has been living in Muskegon her entire life and loves the outdoor opportunities available in Muskegon. She especially loves going on hikes with her husband and dog, and attending different sporting events. She is very excited to be working at the Chamber and is looking forward to getting to know all of the Chamber members!

The E Awards

A Celebration of Muskegon’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Meet the 2017 Entrepreneurs of Excellence, the Lakeshore’s most innovative entrepreneurs.
Entreprenuer Award Luncheon
April 19, 2017 | 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Muskegon Country Club
2801 Lakeshore Drive

$60/general admission
$325/corporate table of 8


Parmenter O’Toole – Attorneys at Law
Next I.T.
Comcast Business
West Shore Bank
GoodTemps, Hines Corporation, Eagle Alloy, Muskegon County Airport, Production Fabricators


Thank you! Signature sponsors:

Warner Norcross & Judd – Attorneys At Law
Mercy Health
Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Care Network of Michigan
Arconic Whitehall Operations

Muskegon Economy… Watch Us Grow 2017!

All signs point to growth in 2017 according to Dr. Paul Isely, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at Grand Valley State University – Seidman School of Business.  At a recent chamber breakfast, Isely reminded the audience that Muskegon’s mighty manufacturing is a large percentage of the local employment base. With 2017 identified as the year for the consumer nationally, that ultimately means more jobs for Muskegon manufacturers who are making the products consumers are buying.

Muskegon’s low unemployment rate will continue to challenge area employers.  The best place to find employees according to Isely, are those who are traveling to jobs outside the county. Currently about 33,000 Muskegon workers are commuting. There are only 3,500 local working age unemployed.  “If employers find a way to sell quality of life by reducing a 45 minute commute to a 5 to 10 minute commute, it is a win/win for the employers and residents,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber.

Other aspects of the community are also strong as reflected in the number of new firms and increasing home prices.

Home, Garden + DIY Show

Over 40 exhibitors and 20 home improvement and DIY seminars.

March 10 | 11 AM – 7 PM
March 11 | 11 AM – 5 PM

Location: Fricano Place Event Center

Sponsored by: Fricano Place Event Center, Keene Lumber, Shepherd Shoreline, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Lakeshore Home Builders Association, Wasserman’s Flowers & Gifts, Blended Furniture Market, Meijer, Staples

Become a Muskegon STAR!

Learn new ways to help advance your career or job prospects by becoming a “Muskegon Star”! The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is working in partnership with West Michigan Works! to help workers enhance customer service skills specifically in the hospitality and retail industry.

This fun and affordable program is designed to help individuals become “Muskegon Stars”! In a half-day session you will learn about all the cool places to visit on the Muskegon Lakeshore and how to engage customers and area residents by promoting the Muskegon Lakeshore. For restaurant servers, this knowledge sharing can result in higher tips and for retail workers it can help you get a promotion.

“Sharing community information effectively with guests and residents creates a positive Muskegon experience,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “These positive experiences help grow our local economy, build a stronger work force and increase quality of life.”

To find out more about this interesting and certified program review the information attached. Muskegon STAR! Trainings are held monthly at the West Michigan Works! office from 1:00pm-5:00pm. Registration cost is $25 per person, space is limited! More information about the program can be found at

Changes in Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

This year we bring in new leadership at the chamber.  Lee Coggin, President of Baker College will be the chair of the chamber board.  We welcome Andy Price, Owner of McKenzie-Price Agency as Vice Chair, Tom Schultz, Vice President of Tyler Sales as secretary, and Randy Filbrandt, Owner of H&S Companies as our treasurer.  Randy is new to the board along with Shawn Buckner, Northern Region Group Vice President at Meijer Corporation and Dave Hazekamp, President of Hazekamp’s Premier Foods.

We must bid farewell to our outstanding chairman, Larry Hines, Owner of Hines Corporation. We are also losing board members Rex Vanderlinde, former owner of Executive Air, Tom Godfrey, formerly of Fifth Third Bank, Bill Vanderweele, Owner of Weber Lumber, and Brenda Jacobs, Partner at Brickley DeLong, PC.   All of these individuals have contributed to our success as a chamber helping us win recognition at the state and national levels.  We will miss them.  Please take time to thank them for their contributions to your organization.

Muskegon Market Report

From the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

New Market Rate Apartments Coming To Muskegon

Construction of the Terrace Plaza apartments is now underway.

building“This is an exciting time for downtown Muskegon. The Watch Muskegon campaign, new restaurants, and shops have brought a lot of energy to the area,” stated Roger Hinman, CEO of the Hinman Company. “This increased activity also means that there is a demand for downtown living and we are pleased to offer that to the community.”

The 6th Floor will have 19 one and two bedroom apartments, ranging from 618 to 1,097 square feet. The 7th Floor will feature a 2,337 square foot, two‐bedroom penthouse apartment. Also on the 7th floor will be a common area fitness center and community room with an outdoor patio. All of the units will have a washer and dryer, granite counter tops, spacious closets, and stunning views of downtown and/or Muskegon Lake. Enclosed parking will be available for all residents.

“We have seen an increase in the demand for downtown housing options,” says Dave Alexander, Executive Director of Downtown Muskegon Now. “This is the first market-rate apartment development to take place in several years and it will be great to offer this additional option for those looking to move to Downtown Muskegon.”

Downtown Muskegon Now, the organization charged with promoting and developing downtown, anticipates that more housing projects will soon follow.

Pearl Mist To Return In 2017

The Muskegon community has received confirmation that the Pearl Mist will be visiting the Port of Muskegon 10 more times in 2017.

The Pearl Seas cruise line company based in Toronto, Ontario, operates the Pearl Mist and is excited to return to Muskegon.

Click here for more information about the Pearl Seas.

Click here for more information about the Cruise Ships visiting Muskegon.

Record Year For Muskegon County

crowd2016 was a record year for many aspects of Muskegon County. Community leaders attribute the success to the WATCH Muskegon campaign as well as the marketing efforts of many Muskegon organizations. The two County Parks on Lake Michigan and three State Parks along with Festival Grounds and a Cruise Ship Port on Muskegon Lake is helping to promote Muskegon as a tourist destination.

In 2016:
• There was a 5% increase in accommodations tax collections
• County Parks usage increased from 2015
• The attendance of Muskegon County Festivals in 2016 was well over 500,000 people and is an increase from 2015

More Business News

January 4 – Muskegon packaging company gets new owner, plans to push into Grand Rapids

December 19 – Muskegon County economic forecast to take new tone in 2017

November 20 – Small town vinyl record store opens, boasts collection of 100k albums

November 16 – Record hotel-tax collection show Muskegon County becoming a ‘destination’

October 22 – Six-story buildings proposed for a core of downtown Muskegon

October 10 – Meet 3 female business owners in the No. 85 best place for women entrepreneurs

October 9 – Sun Dolphin kayak manufacturer prepares to add 60 jobs with expansion

Greater Muskegon Jaycees’ Snowfest Returns in 2017

The Greater Muskegon Jaycees annual Snowfest event will return to Downtown Muskegon Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4, 2017.  After taking a year off from producing the festival in 2016, the popular winter event will return with a family-friendly “First Fridays” event on Friday night: Frozen Friday, and a jam-packed Saturday including popular events such as the annual “Battle of the Bowls Chili Cook-Off”, snow volleyball, a cornhole tournament, and concluding with a downtown pub crawl.

“The Jaycees chapter has been working hard at rebuilding itself over the past year as the organization had only 12 members at the end of 2015,” says Jamie Hekker, President of the Greater Muskegon Jaycees. “The organization is well positioned with nearly 60 members today and is heading into Snowfest with great momentum.”  As part of the chapter and event’s resurgence, a new Snowfest logo and brand was created by young professional, Kassi Dean.

On Friday, February 3, the Jaycees will host Frozen Friday, taking place on Western Avenue between 3rd and 4th street.  This is in partnership with Downtown Muskegon Now’s First Fridays event series featuring family-friendly free or affordable activities taking place Downtown Muskegon on the first Friday of each month since June of 2016.  Frozen Friday will run from 6pm to 8pm and will feature the movie Frozen played on an outdoor movie screen along with popcorn, a smore station, arts and crafts with the Boys & Girls Club, a Snow Derby with the Boy scouts, and special guest appearances from “Snowlof and Elsa”.

On Saturday, February 4th, a Cornhole and Snow Volleyball Tournament will run simultaneously on Western Avenue between 3rd and 4th street. Registration begins at 9am and tournaments begin at 10am.  Trophies and cash prizes will be given to 1st and 2nd place teams in each tournament. Pre-event registration is requested.  Cost to play is $30 per cornhole team of 2 and $40 per volleyball team of 4.  Those wanting to compete in the popular tournaments should register early at

The Popular Battle of the Bowls Chili Cook-off will take place from 11am to 2pm on Saturday, February 4th at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Downtown Muskegon. This event will be in partnership with the Child Abuse Council, who produced the event last year in Snowfest’s absence.   Area restaurants will go head to head to see who has the best Chili.  Chili samples will be 20 for $10 or $1 per sample bowl.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with the businesses that are already downtown and the Child Abuse Council to help execute this year’s event,” says Stevi Riel, Snowfest Chairperson. The 2017 Snowfest activities will continue throughout downtown’s bars and restaurants.

Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are still available.  For more information on getting involved or event details, visit the website at or on facebook at:

Muskegon Establishes New Partnership with Grand Valley State University

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and Muskegon Area First have forged a new partnership with the Grand Valley State University – Seidman School of Business. Starting in 2017, Associate Dean, Dr. Paul Isely will lead his team to research and present Muskegon County’s Annual Economic Forecast during the popular Muskegon Chamber January Business for Breakfast.

The Muskegon County Economic Forecast has been a signature program for decades bringing more than 400 business leaders together to hear the area’s economic outlook for the upcoming year. Following the retirement of long-time forecast presenter George Erickcek, from the W.E. UpJohn Institute for Employment Research, a new local partnership was sought out.
“Dr. Isely is very familiar with West Michigan and the Muskegon Lakeshore,” Chamber President Cindy Larsen said. “We are excited to work with him and welcome him and his team to Muskegon for this important presentation.”

Recently, Dr. Isely held a focus group with Muskegon County business leaders gathering additional insight to better set the stage for his presentation to the full business community in January.  “We’re excited for the new outlook that Dr. Isely will bring to Muskegon this winter,” said Ed Garner, President of Muskegon Area First. “Dr. Isely has a great understanding of the local economy and should deliver an accurate and informational presentation.

Dr. Isely is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the Seidman School of Business.  He holds his Ph.D. and M.S. in Economics from Purdue University and a dual B.S. in Physics and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Isely and his team will gather data locally instead of nationally to put together a report to the business community as to what the economic future of Muskegon County will look like.

The Annual Economic Forecast Business for Breakfast will be held on Friday, January 27 at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center in Downtown Muskegon. Registration will open at 7:00 AM, with the breakfast and the program running from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM. Space is limited! More information about the program can be found at

Become a Muskegon STAR! 2017 Training Sessions

Become a Muskegon STAR!
Muskegon County certified community information specialist

2017 Training Sessions Now Open!

The Muskegon STAR! Program provides individuals the tools to excel at customer interaction and enhance the overall experience for tourists, guests, friends and fellow employees. BE THE REASON someone moves to, invests in, or visits the Muskegon Lakeshore.

With the popularity of the Muskegon STAR! Program growing, many companies are opting to have the training in-house. Call the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber at 231-722-3751 to schedule a corporate training for your staff or organization.
STAR! Sessions fill quickly – Reserve your space early!
Event Details:

January 19, 2017
Click here to register

February 16, 2017
Click here to register

March 16, 2017
Click here to register

1:00 – 5:00 pm
$25 per person
West Michigan Works! Office

Program Partner:
West Michigan Works!

Become a Muskegon STAR!

New STAR Training Sessions Now Open2017 Training Sessions Now Open!

The Muskegon STAR! Program provides individuals the tools to excel at customer interaction and enhance the overall experience for tourists, guests, friends and fellow employees. BE THE REASON someone moves to, invests in, or visits the Muskegon Lakeshore.


With the popularity of the Muskegon STAR! Program growing, many companies are opting to have the training in-house. Call the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber at 231-722-3751 to schedule a corporate training for your staff or organization.

STAR! Sessions fill quickly – Reserve your space early! 

Click here to Register!

Event Details:
January 19, 2017
Click here to register

February 16, 2017
Click here to register

March 16, 2017
Click here to register

 1:00 – 5:00 pm
$25 per person
West Michigan Works! Office

Community Leaders Recognized as Local Agents of Change

The business community gathered to celebrate eight community leaders and initiatives that were recognized as the 2016 Agents of Change. Those recognized range from business reinventions to unique festivals and events, education initiatives and art installations.


(from left to right) Allen Serio, Toni Seyferth, Ellen Berends, Hoby Thrasher, John Hermanson, Barb Hermanson, RandiLynn Talsma, Jason Talsma, Megan Byard-Karaba, John Severson and Erin Kuhn

“The Muskegon Lakeshore is quickly evolving,” says Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “These passionate individuals are dramatically changing the landscape of our community, and deserve recognition for their efforts.”

Each year, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce recognizes individuals or projects that have made a positive contribution to the Muskegon Lakeshore and awards them as Agents of Change.

This year’s Agents of Change were recognized at the Ninth Annual Agents of Change Business After Hours celebration on November 3, 2016 at Bella Maria’s Ristorante & Event Center.  This event was produced by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with WGVU Public Media.

Here are the 2016 projects and businesses recognized as 2016 Agents of Change:

Hoby Thrasher, Bear Lake Tavern
Thanks to Hoby Thrasher, the historic Bear Lake Tavern has been reinvented for the next generation. This building and business turnaround is an outstanding example of how an entrepreneur can preserve local history while modernizing and rebranding a locally-owned business.

Jason & RandiLynn Talsma, Blended Furniture Market
Turning a closed drug store into a destination furniture retail center takes vision, creativity and a lot of hard work.  Jason and RandiLynn Talsma moved their business from Holland to Norton Shores creating a furniture store that caters to area residents with style and taste.

Lakeshore Brewer’s Guild, Burning Foot Beer Festival
The Lakeshore Brewer’s Guild turned their one-of-a-kind festival at Pere Marquette Beach into a Midwest craft beer celebration! Allen Serio’s brainchild is an event showcasing our community’s greatest asset, the beach, and shines a light on local craft beer businesses.

Ellen Berends, First Fridays
Ellen’s “First Fridays” concept is bringing thousands of people to Downtown Muskegon on the first Friday of every month.  This family-friendly event series has included street performers, a “Touch the Trucks,” parade, bonfires and more.  First Fridays energizes Western Avenue with vibrancy and fun for new and returning visitors.

John Severson & Megan Byard-Karaba, Muskegon Area Promise
The Muskegon Area Promise came to fruition under the fresh direction and determination of John Severson and Megan Byard-Karaba. This program offers graduating high school students access to two-year college degrees, tuition free in Muskegon County. John and Megan worked closely with a volunteer board and state officials to capture final approval on this critical education program.

Toni Seyferth, Muskegon STAR! Student Program
Educator Toni Seyferth brought the popular Muskegon STAR! Program to our community’s youth. Toni created the first Muskegon STAR! Student Program at North Muskegon High School.  This first STAR! Student class equipped teenage participants with soft-skills, facts and information needed to effectively promote the area’s assets.  This class is now being modeled in other school districts across Muskegon County.

Erin Kuhn, Port Day Celebration
Muskegon’s first ever “Port Day” was the vision and coordination of Erin Kuhn.  Business and community leaders from across the state, and beyond, came to the shores of Muskegon Lake to learn about and celebrate the Port of Muskegon.  The event highlighted the capabilities of the deep-water port in an effort to attract and expand business. Hopefully, many of you were able to see Erin earlier this evening before she needed to leave early for a previous commitment.

John & Barb Hermanson, Sails Ablaze Art Installation
A passion for Muskegon Lake and creative vision lead John and Barb Hermanson to raise over $144,000 for the art installation Sails Ablaze.  The sculpture, by artist Steven Anderson, honors the story of the Lyman Davis, the fastest and last commercial sailing ship on the Great Lakes whose journey tragically ended in an intentional fire.  The drama of this time period will be remembered by all thanks to John and Barb.

Talent Recruitment Lunch

Friday, December 9, 2016
Find and keep the best workers along the Lakeshore!

Dialogue with your peers about our workforce shortage and learn best practices and creative tools that attract and retain talent.

Meet the panel:









Michelle Harris
Harris Hospitality









Terry Leberfinger

Vice President of HR
ADAC Automotive









risteen Bench
West Shore Urology










Facilitated by:
Suzanne Velarde
Velarde Marketing

Register Now

Friday, December 9, 2016
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Shoreline Inn Conference Center
at the Lake House

$25 per person includes program
and buffet lunch

Agents of Change Business After Hours

Business After Hours – Agents of Change

Hoby Thrasher – Bear Lake Tavern
Jason & RandiLynn Talsma – Blended Furniture Market
Allen Serio – Burning Foot Beer Festival
Ellen Berends – First Fridays
John Severson & Megan Byard – Muskegon Promise
Erin Kuhn – Port Day
John & Barb Hermanson – Sails Ablaze
Toni Seyferth – Muskegon STAR! Student Program

Agents of Change are community members or organizations that have made a positive impact on the greater Muskegon Lakeshore community through their leadership and action.

To rsvp go to our Facebook page.

Register now.

Event Details:
Thursday, November 03, 2016 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Bella Maria’s Ristorante & Event Center
513 West Pontaluna Road
Muskegon, MI 49444

$5 donation at door

Event Partner:
WGVU Public Media

Event Host:
Bella Maria’s Ristorante & Event Center

Event Sponsor:
Consumers Energy

Muskegon STAR! Certification Training

Join the 500+ Muskegon STARS!  The Muskegon STAR! Program provides the tools to excel at customer interaction and enhance the overall experience for tourists, friends and fellow employees.

Thursday, October 20, 2016 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
West Michigan Works!
316 Morris Avenue, Suite 300
Muskegon, MI 49440
West Michigan Works Office is located inside Terrace Plaza

Cost: $25 per person

Find out more at:!-Certification-Training-5965/details


Muskegon Canine Community Celebrates First Public Dog Park Sept. 26

Submitted by Cece Riley, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

MUSKEGON, MI – The coalition raising funds, designing and building a Downtown Muskegon Dog Park are having a concluding community gathering to celebrate the generous donation of PetSafe to the effort to raise more than $100,000 for Muskegon County’s first public off-leash park.

PetSafe, community leaders, project partners, donors and area dog lovers – and their dogs – will gather Monday Sept. 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the planned dog park site at Shoreline Drive and West Western Avenue owned by Muskegon County and known as the former Carpenter Brothers site. The park will be built next year at 793 W. Western.

Watch mUSkeGOn Dogs Go fundraising campaign will conclude Sept. 30. With the significant $25,000 national grant from PetSafe Bark for Your Park program, the local crowdfunding effort is expected to reach and surpass the $50,000 goal by the end of the month. Additional funds will go for additional park features and a maintenance fund.

With $50,000 raised, the Downtown Muskegon Dog Park will receive a Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan House Development Authority $50,000 grant from the state’s Public Spaces Community Places Crowdfunding initiative. (

PetSafe officials – a national leader in the development of pet behavioral, containment and lifestyle products – will be in Muskegon to present local officials one of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company’s Bark for Your Park awards for $25,000.

On the future site of the Downtown Muskegon Dog Park, PetSafe activities will be led by national dog trainer and pet expert Harrison Forbes. There will be a doggy photo booth, Playcore agility equipment, opportunities to adopt Pound Buddies dog shelter pets, the ability to create a dog outfit for a Pawject Runway event and have a dog portrait done by a local artist. There will be plenty of giveaways and an opportunity to engage Forbes on all sorts of canine topics.

The Downtown Muskegon Dog Park is being developed by initial partners Downtown Muskegon Now, Muskegon County, city of Muskegon, Community Foundation for Muskegon County and Baker College’s Vet Tech program. Others have joined the effort such as the Greater Muskegon Kennel Club, Watermark Center, Friends of Muskegon Dog Beach and Pound Buddies, among others.

Cruises, Coffee, and “Cashing In”


Cruise Ships are Coming!
peopleYour Chamber has been advocating for cruise ships to dock in Muskegon during the summer tour season. Hard work is paying off, because the
Pearl Seas Cruise Line’s beautiful passenger vessel, the Pearl Mist, plans to dock in Muskegon as part of their 2016 summer tour season.

Chamber President Cindy Larsen just got back from the Seatrade Conference in Ft. Lauderdale where she was meeting ship owners, learning more about the industry and advocating for cruise ships to tour the great lakes.

Muskegon’s deep-water port and numerous nearby attractions and amenities make it very attractive to cruise ships sailing the Great Lakes,” says Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, which advocates for passenger cruise ships on the Great Lakes.

The ship’s arrival dates will be posted soon. Click here for more information on Pearl Seas Cruise Line.


“Coffee King” to Keynote E-Awards

coffee kingBob Fish, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of
BIGGBY COFFEE will talk about his entrepreneurial journey at this year’s E-Awards Entrepreneur Luncheon on April 27.

Bob Fish and Mary Roszel started the coffee café franchise in 1995 with a single location in E. Lansing. They now have 204 locations in nine states. CNBC calls the franchise “the fastest growing coffee chain in the United States“!

Fish is Past Chairman of the Board of the Michigan Restaurant Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan. He is also a founding board member of MiQuest, a Michigan entrepreneurial incubator, and a current board member of the National Small Business Association.

Special thanks to local BIGGBY COFFEE Franchise owner, Peter Gawkowski for helping secure this year’s keynote speaker! The Annual E-Awards Entrepreneur Luncheon celebrates the spirit of Muskegon’s entrepreneurial community by recognizing the area’s most innovative entrepreneurs. Click here for event details.


Advocating in DC with Great Lakes Metro Chambers

DC fly inLast week your Chamber Advocacy Coordinator, Rachel Stewart, was busy lobbying during a DC fly-in with West Michigan Chamber leadership and other members of the Great Lakes Metro Chamber Coalition. Together, this coalition represents 40 Chambers of Commerce and 150,000 businesses in the Great Lakes Region.

Over two days in DC, participants had 28 appointments with federal legislators and their staff to advocate for appropriations that benefit our economy including the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“The Great Lakes Region has a tremendous impact on our nation and our federal legislators take notice when we come to DC for these discussions,” said Stewart. If the twelve states and two provinces of the Great Lakes trading region were a country, it would have the 3rd largest economy in the world, with estimated annual output near $6 trillion.

“It is always a pleasure to serve the members and advocate for issues to support our local economy, especially things that impact the Great Lakes Region,” added Stewart. I encourage our business leaders who are also passionate about our region to consider attending a fly-in with the coalition in the future.”


Your Chamber’s “Watch Muskegon” Role

watch muskegonAn annual survey of Chamber members told us that Muskegon’s image should be our number one priority this year. To help sustain an environment for business success and aid in your recruiting efforts, we decided to take a leadership role in the Watch Muskegon campaign.

While a large committee representing over 25 organizations is working together on the campaign, your Chamber has taken the administrative role, handling the fundraising, budgeting, ad buys, website, social media and committee coordination.

We are thrilled at the community and corporate buy-in of this campaign, as none of it would be possible without you! To date, more than 100 chamber members have made financial contributions to the campaign totaling over $162,000!

Please continue to help us spread the message. Click here for ways in which you can get involved in the grassroots campaign that’s sweeping our town and region.


Chamber members receive $165,620!

accident fund check35 member businesses are receiving dividend checks totaling $165,620 thanks to safe work practices and their participation in a workers compensation group program from Accident Fund Insurance Companies.

The 16% dividend amount returned is the largest in the program’s history. The dividend amount returned is based on each participant’s premium costs. An average dividend of over $4,871 was returned to each member.

Safety at work leads to fewer injuries and fewer workers compensation claims. Congrats to our members who finished the year with so few claims!

For more information on this cost-saving member benefit, contact Dawn Johnson at 231-724-3175.

Muskegon’s on the Map!

breakfaston the mapdaveMuskegon’s Own
As the head of Travel Michigan, Dave leads the state’s tourism branding, advertising the public relations efforts. Learn about one of the country’s most impactful campaignpuremis!





Bob will join Dave to talk about how Muskegon is partnering with the award-winning Pure Michigan campaign.county

registerEvent Details:

Friday, March 25, 2016
7:00 a.m. Registration Opens7:30 – 9:00 a.m. Program
Downtown Muskegon Holiday Inn and
Conference Center
$225/corporate table of 8

Event Sponsors: