Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

Congratulations, Future 15!

Approximately 200 people gathered at your chamber’s Future 15 STIR Networking Event last month celebrating fifteen of the Muskegon Lakeshore’s up and coming young professionals:

futurefifteen• Alison Updyke, Wildflower Studios
• Andrew Mann, Muskegon Habitat for Humanity
• Cherrelle Hughey, Community enCompass
• David Manley, Core Realty Partners
• JacQuaye A. Payne, Community Foundation for Muskegon County
• Jake Eckholm, City of Muskegon Heights
• Jimmy Hegedus, Great Lakes Dental Excellence
• Jocelyn Hines, Community Foundation for Muskegon County
• Joshua Mueller, Spectrum Health
• Kara Zielinski, United Way of the Lakeshore
• Kevin D. Osterhart, Concept Design Studio
• Megan Aney, Sitting Pretty Pet Spa & Boutique
• Philip David DeYoung, Self Employed Musician
• Rachel Stewart, Muskegon Community College
• Travis Dodge, Longer Days

The 2018 Future 15 finalists were recognized for contributing to the growth and success of their company or organization and the positive impact they are making in the Muskegon Lakeshore community.

Announcing the ATHENA on the Lakeshore Award Finalists

Muskegon, Michigan – The ATHENA on the Lakeshore committee is pleased to announce the 2018 ATHENA Award Finalists and the 2018 ATHENA Young Professional Award Finalists. Celebrating its 14th year, the ATHENA awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding lakeshore women who have demonstrated excellence in their business or profession, provided valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in their community, assisted women in reaching their full potential and exhibit the spirit of regional collaboration. This year, we celebrate nine ATHENA Finalists and four Young Professional Finalists.

2018 ATHENA Award Finalists
Zaneta Adams, William Hughes, PLLC; WINC; Lighthouse for Veterans
Mary Boyd, Mercy Health & St. Joseph Health System
Jennifer Bustard, Mona Shores Public Schools
Pam Curtis, Senior Resources of West Michigan
Kimberly Maguire, Mercy Health Muskegon
Julia Rupp, HealthWest
Brianna Scott, Brianna T. Scott & Associates
Chris Stevenson, JW’s and J-Dubs
Barbara Lee VanHorssen, Extended Grace

2018 ATHENA Young Professional Award Finalists
Sara Barco, Weiss Chiropractic
Meghan Heritage, Blue West Properties
Dena Isabell, Consumers Energy
Cece Riley, HealthWest

The ATHENA Award presentation luncheon will be held on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at Muskegon Country Club. Reservations are required. Cost to attend is $35 per person for chamber members, $55 per person for non-members or $400 for corporate table of eight. A portion of all tickets sales supports local leadership programs. Reservations can be made by visiting or by calling the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce at 231.722.3751.

ATHENA on the Lakeshore continues to be a unique program supporting, developing and honoring women leaders along the lakeshore. ATHENA on the Lakeshore is a program of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and The Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg. PNC Bank is the premier sponsor.

MOKA to Host Crescent Home Open House

Muskegon, August 30, 2018:  MOKA announces the opening of the Crescent Home and cordially invites the community to an open house on Thursday, September 6th from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.   The event is co-hosted with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and includes a tour of the home and a ribbon cutting ceremony, acknowledgements and remarks at 5:00 p.m.  Refreshments will be provided by Ryke’s Bakery and The Cheese Lady.

The recently constructed Crescent Home will be a new residence for six individuals with developmental disabilities moving from an existing home.  The new home is located at 472 West Hile Road in Norton Shores.

MOKA is a charitable nonprofit organization supporting children and adults with autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities and mental illnesses throughout western Michigan.   The agency currently supports more than 800 individuals and provides more than 750,000 hours of direct service annually.  The nonprofit agency was created by parents and advocates in 1978 and currently employs 488 employees who help carry out our mission to create opportunities for independence and acceptance in our communities by supporting people in making choices, building relationships, sharing places, developing skills, enhancing reputations, and giving back to our communities.

Muskegon News

from Watch Muskegon Market Report’s June Newsletter


Ambitious plans are in progress for the latest Muskegon development, Windward Pointe.


Photo Credit: DPZ CoDesign

The 120-acre parcel, once home to the Sappi Paper Mill, may include various types of residential properties, mixed use buildings and more. Proposed features include a canal system with marina, a hardscape park, hotel and town center.

For the full story, visit MLive.



Photo Credit: Governor Rick Snyder

A new plan to fill Michigan’s talent pipeline was announced in Downtown Muskegon this week.

classGovernor Rick Snyder visited the Muskegon Community College Sturrus Technology Center on Wednesday to sign the Marshall Plan. First introduced in February, the plan aims to fill the state’s talent gap and better prepare students for in-demand careers. Millions of dollars will be invested in innovative job training, workforce development and education programs.

Get the details below on WOOD TV8.

Muskegon’s Future 15 Young Professionals Announced

Fifteen of the Muskegon Lakeshore’s up and coming young professionals are being recognized by the business community. These individuals contribute to the growth and success of their company/organization and are making a positive impact along the Muskegon Lakeshore.

“The next generation of professionals is becoming more influential in our community and it is important they are recognized for the contributions being made to the area’s economy and quality of life,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

A selection committee, consisting of young professionals that were among the 2017 Future 15 award recipients, gathered to determine who this year’s Future 15 would be. After careful review of the nominations, this year’s Future 15 emerging young leaders are as follows:

  • Alison Updyke, Wildflower Studios
  • Andrew Mann, Muskegon Habitat for Humanity
  • Cherrelle Hughey, Community enCompass
  • David Manley, Core Realty Partners
  • Jake Eckholm, City of Muskegon Heights
  • JacQuaye A. Payne, Community Foundation for Muskegon County
  • Jimmy Hegedus, Great Lakes Dental Excellence
  • Jocelyn Hines, Community Foundation for Muskegon County
  • Joshua Mueller, Spectrum Health
  • Kara Zielinski, United Way on the Lakeshore
  • Kevin D. Osterhart, Concept Design Studio
  • Megan Aney, Sitting Pretty Pet Spa & Boutique
  • Philip David DeYoung, Muskegon Civic Theater
  • Rachel Stewart, Muskegon Community College
  • Travis Dodge, Longer Days

Business Friendly Ratings Announced by Chamber

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce representatives interviewed candidates running for county offices on business development and job creation. Two candidates received the highest “5” star rating. These candidates understand the economic issues facing the Muskegon Lakeshore community and will stand up for programs and services that create jobs and prosperity in Muskegon County.

Candidates were questioned about leadership, knowledge of the business community and how they plan to personally help Muskegon achieve its full economic potential. The volunteer representatives spent a combined total of nearly 50 hours conducting the interviews and rating the candidates.

A complete list of candidate ratings can be found in the Advocacy Center at “This online resource provides the community a platform to quickly compare the local candidates running for office and access other election resources,” says Viktor Anderson, co-chair of the Government Affairs Committee.

“The Chamber encourages all of Muskegon’s residents to educate themselves on the candidates’ qualifications and participate in the election process,” says Eric Ringelberg, co-chair of the Government Affairs Committee. “We hope that employers will promote the importance of voting in the August 7 primary election.”

For more information about the community, business development and the elections, please visit the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce website at

Muskegon Named America’s Strongest Town

Muskegon, MI – Muskegon, Michigan is the winner of the 2018 national Strong Towns Contest! This contest is hosted by the Strong Towns organization, a non-profit community development group, who recognizes America’s most sustainable and resilient communities. Muskegon entered the month long contest competing in a bracket-based competition where finalists included Annapolis, Maryland; Greenville, South Carolina; and Kent, Ohio.

Muskegon was recognized for its ability to implement change that makes the community stronger. The judges acknowledged Muskegon for its “wildly successful farmers market, commitment to rebuilding the downtown and its good use of waterfront,” according to the Strong Towns announcement.

“It truly was March Madness for Muskegon because we had to jump through hoops each week to make it to the contest finals,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. The contest included writing essays about the town, sending photographs, a podcast and a live webcast with the City Manager, Frank Peterson and Chamber President, Cindy Larsen. Members of the strong town organization across the country along with local community residents casted their votes for their favorite community. In the championship round, Muskegon, Michigan won against Kent, Ohio by 4 percent!

“Muskegon has come so far in recent years. It is great for the residents to receive this recognition. Strong Towns isn’t about one project or one person, it’s about everyone chipping in to move a community forward,” says Larsen. “Anyone who visits will see that Muskegon truly is a strong town and has set the framework to be successful for the next generation.”

For more information about the community or the award, visit or

Become a Muskegon STAR

filecabMuskegon County Certified Community Information Specialist

What office item was invented in Muskegon?
And the answer…the Steel File Cabinet!

Yes, Muskegon is beautiful but it is much more than that! Become Muskegon STAR! certified and get knowledge on how unique Muskegon County really is.

This class will help you:

• Attract new talent
• Improve the visitor’s experience
• Enhance your customer’s experience

You will receive an official STAR! pin, certificate of completion and free admission to several area attractions! This class is taught by community experts: Pat Shafer and Linden Peterson.

Event Details:
Thursday, May 17
1:00 – 5:00 pm
West Michigan Works! Office
316 Morris Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440
$25 per person

Tips to Optimize Your Google Listing

Food & Facts – Take a break to educate.

Optimize Your Google Listing!
Tuesday, May 1 | 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

mringelbergGoogle is the #1 search engine. Is your business easily found? Is all your information correct?

Join us to learn how to completely optimize your “Google My Business” Listing with 9 simple tips.

Presented by: Michele Ringelberg, Owner of ThrivePOP, a local web and marketing firm.

Michele has over 20 years’ experience in web and marketing services and was named Marketing Genius in a nationwide IT Marketing Services competition in Nashville, TN.

Click here to register.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Training Room
380 W. Western Ave. Suite 202
Muskegon, MI 49440

Lunch will be provided.

Pricing: $25/member

Temporary Staffing Services

Muskegon’s Entrepreneurs of Excellence Announced

Seven local Entrepreneurs of Excellence will get recognized for making a lasting impact on the community at The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s annual “E-Awards” Luncheon. Entrepreneurs improve the standard of living in our community in addition to creating jobs, new businesses, and social change.

The luncheon event celebrating Muskegon’s entrepreneurial spirit will be held on April 27. During the luncheon, one will be named Muskegon’s 2018 Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year.

The 2018 Entrepreneurs of Excellence are:
• Steven Crooks, WaterDog Outfitters
• Lari Hines, Salon 297 Hair Studio & Day Spa
• Jim Stevens, J. Stevens Construction
• Jim VanderWier, Redi Rental & Uganski Roll-Off Services
• Rick Weihl, Hurricane Power
• Jim Wilde, Wilde Signs
• Carol Yarnold, Dog Star Ranch

The entrepreneurial stories of this year’s Entrepreneurs of Excellence will be shared at the Annual E-Awards Luncheon. These awardees are chosen by a committee comprised of past Entrepreneur Award winners. On the program is past Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year, Scott Erdman, Owner of Erdman Machine Co. who will share his story of success.

What: E-Awards Luncheon Celebrating the Spirit of Entrepreneurship along the Muskegon Lakeshore
When: Friday, April 27, 2018 from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Muskegon Country Club, 2801 Lakeshore Drive
Cost: $40/chamber members, $60/general admission, $395/corporate table of 8
About: Recognition of the lakeshore’s Entrepreneurs of Excellence, the announcement of Muskegon’s 2018 Outstanding Entrepreneur Award Winner and hear from past Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year, Scott Erdman, Owner of Erdman Machine Co.
Sponsors: Parmenter Law, Profab, Rehmann, GoodTemps, Fifth Third Bank, Next I.T., West Shore Bank, Eagle Alloy, Hines Corporation, Manpower, Comcast Business

If you would like more information about the award, program, or to register for the event, contact the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce office at 231.722.3751 or visit

National Recognition, New Downtown Living and More

from Watch Muskegon Market Report’s February Newsletter

Watch US GO Feature

cindylarsenChamber President, Cindy Larsen, won the Grand Rapids Business Journal 2017 Newsmaker of the Year award this month. The award recognized Muskegon’s redevelopment efforts which include over $1 billion in investments!

In addition to winning the overall 2017 Newsmaker of the Year award, Larsen and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber won the Newsmaker award in the economic development category as well. WATCH US GO! Click here to learn more.


apartmentMore living options are available Downtown Muskegon and they are quickly filling up! Highpoint Flats filled 11 of their 47 apartments within the first week that the leasing office was opened. This is just one of many projects making Downtown Muskegon a living destination. Highpoint Flats is on schedule to be complete this May.
Click here to learn more.



Photo Credit: Progressive AE

Location and design of the new convention center is under way! Progressive AE, an architectural design firm, has been contracted to work on the proposed convention center. The Muskegon City Commission and Muskegon County are working together to make this happen. The convention center is expected to open in 2021 with construction starting in 2019.
Click here to learn more.

Read Muskegon, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life through improved literacy in Muskegon, was selected as a finalist in the MiBiz Best-Managed Nonprofits Awards. They opened their family literacy center in Muskegon Heights last May.
Click here to learn more.



Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Muskegon receives more national recognition! Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon was mentioned by National Geographic as being a destination for surfers. Muskegon is continuously getting put on the map on a national level for its innovation, cultural offerings and natural resources. New this year is the Great Lakes Surf Festival slated to happen this summer.
Click here to learn more.


Homes Sold
January 2017 = 168
January 2018 = 132

Average Sale Price
January 2017 = $121,389
January 2018 = $121,276

Labor Force
December 2016 = 75,900
December 2017 = 76,400

December 2016 = 72,300
December 2017 = 72,400

84% of NEW Promise scholars are planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree after the promise.

Statistics provided by: The Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth; Michigan Association of Realtors, and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District

2017 Newsmaker of the Year

Muskegon, MI – Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, accepted the Grand Rapids Business Journal 2017 Newsmaker of the Year award this morning at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. This award recognized Muskegon’s redevelopment over the year which includes over $1 billion in investments.

Over 600 West Michigan business and community leaders were on hand to witness the award recognition. “It is great to see Muskegon being recognized for its economic success,” says Larsen. “The Watch Muskegon campaign was launched at the perfect time to capture the amazing story of Muskegon’s evolution.”

The community engagement strategy formulated by the Watch Muskegon Campaign has tapped the energy of over 100 community stakeholders and thousands of area residents. “From large businesses and small business start-ups to investments by education and government, Muskegon’s resurgence is now unstoppable,” according to the Chamber President.

Also recognized at this event was GE Aviation/Norton Shores facility. They are one of many growing manufacturing companies located along the Muskegon Lakeshore.

newsmakerawardsIn addition to winning the 2017 Newsmaker of the Year award, Larsen and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber won the Newsmaker award in the economic development category.

Each year, Grand Rapids Business Journal reporters and editors meet to discuss nominees for the upcoming Newsmaker of the Year honors. This year, more than 225 choices were considered before determining the top three nominees in 16 different categories. The top selection from each category was recognized with an industry Newsmaker award, and the 2017 Newsmaker of the Year was selected from among the winners of those 16 categories. The top Newsmaker in each category and the overall Newsmaker of the Year were announced during the event.

About the Chamber – The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is the premier business membership organization on the lakeshore representing over 1,200 businesses and organizations. The Muskegon Chamber represents businesses of every size and type all over West Michigan. The Chamber is celebrating 125 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 an 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.

Will You Consider Running For Office?

from Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s Action Alert

We need people with business experience running for elected positions. This year, Muskegon County Commission seats are available.

Now is the time to start preparing! Below are resources to help you begin your journey into public office.

The Chamber’s government affairs committee is here to help!

Click here for more resources and ways to get started.


Live Downtown Muskegon With Its Urban Lakeshore Lifestyle

MUSKEGON, MI — A host of residential developments have been completed, are under construction or in the planning stages for downtown Muskegon. With the transformation of downtown Muskegon from the Muskegon Mall era, now is the time to celebrate “Live Downtown Muskegon, an urban Lakeshore lifestyle.”

Downtown Muskegon Now with the support of five groups excited about the explosion of downtown residential options launched the Live Downtown Muskegon initiative at the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s Home, Garden + DIY Show at Fricano Place Friday and Saturday March 9 and 10. The same reasons that it is exciting to work and play in downtown Muskegon, it is now just as dynamic to live here as well, according to DMN Executive Director Dave Alexander.

“From affordable senior apartments to luxury homes on Muskegon Lake, 2018 will see all sorts of living options open up in downtown Muskegon,” Alexander said. “Among the $50 million-plus in downtown construction now underway are more than 150 apartment units that will open this year that are desperately being sought by the West Michigan market.”

Live Downtown Muskegon had a table at the Home, Garden + DIY Show to provide information on all of the downtown housing options – those existing, under construction and in the planning stages. There are also a host of reasons that living downtown is truly joining the “urban lakeshore lifestyle.”

Among the reasons to Live Downtown Muskegon:

• Walk to restaurants, breweries and distilleries.

• Be a part of more than 1.1 million people who visited downtown Muskegon last year for events and institutions

• Join the 10,000 of your friends and neighbors at the Saturday Muskegon Farmers Market

• Celebrate motorcycles, Irish music, Fridays in Hackley Park, arts and crafts, Christian music, Polish culture, jazz music and much more at annual festivals.

• Cheer on the home teams Muskegon Lumberjacks, the Muskegon Risers and West Michigan Ironmen at L.C. Walker Arena.

• Continue your education at the Muskegon Community College Sturrus Center, the Baker College of Muskegon Culinary Institute of Michigan and Hackley Library.

• Shop local, specialty retailers at the Century Club Center, Western Market, Cheese Lady, Front Porch and Vintage Redefined.

• Live in the dynamic and diverse urban Nelson Neighborhood.

• Experience art, history and culture at the Muskegon Museum of Art, Lakeshore Museum Center, Muskegon Heritage Museum and the Hackley & Hume houses.

• Take in Muskegon Lake sunsets at Muskegon County’s Heritage Landing.

• Bike, run or walk on the Lakeshore Trail along Muskegon Lake.

The Live Downtown Muskegon table was at the home show Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Alexander provided a seminar at the home show on downtown living Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. The Event Center at Fricano Place is at 1050 W. Western in downtown Muskegon’s Western Waterfront district.

Live Downtown Muskegon is being launched by Downtown Muskegon Now, Watermark Place, Lakeview Lofts, Port City Construction/Heritage Square Townhomes, Hinman Group/Terrace Flats and downtown’s Core Realty Partners.

Chamber of Commerce March Breakfast Panel

from the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce eVENTS Newsletter, March 2018

Business for Breakfast

State of the South County
Friday, March 23
7:15 AM – 7:30 Networking | 7:30 – 9:00 Program
Folkert Community Hub

South Muskegon County is growing in population, businesses, and attractions! Find out what’s happening in South Muskegon County from these community leaders.

Sponsored by: Rehmann, Little River Casino Resort

Workforce Shortage is the Top Concern

from Jodi Kittle, Communications Manager for the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

If you are looking for work, look no further than Muskegon County! Finding and recruiting workers is the number one concern of area businesses according to Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce members. Each year, the chamber surveys local businesses to find out how to make Muskegon County the best place to live, work, and play. At the end of 2017, 68% percent of the businesses surveyed stated that the workforce shortage was the number one concern.

“It is great to have a strong economy, yet now we must work to develop local talent and recruit new talent to the community,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “This means supporting effective workforce training programs like skilled training funds,” says Larsen. Last year, over $700,000 in state training funds was distributed to local businesses according to records from Muskegon Area First, Muskegon County’s economic development agency.

Also important to the business community is infrastructure improvement for roads, waterfront development and the port development. At the same time, more public transportation opportunities including walkable/bikeable pathways rated high on the chamber survey list.

Over 150 businesses responded to the annual survey which is used to determine the chamber advocacy agenda for the following year. The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will now promote these issues to local and state elected officials for their consideration when determining community needs. Activities that support business and education partnerships will be a high priority in 2018 as well.

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 125 years as the area’s premier business organization. Click here for further survey results.

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.