Grand Rapids Chamber Partners with Kent District Library to Support Minority Business Growth

Partnership will support connection to resources and expansion of collaborative workspace

The Grand Rapids Chamber is pleased to announce a partnership with Kent District Library (KDL) to support Chamber’s Center for Economic Inclusion (CEI).

“The Center for Economic Inclusion aims to address the economic disparities faced by minority entrepreneurs in West Michigan by providing comprehensive support and services to assist them in managing and growing their businesses,” said Omar Cuevas, Vice President of Investor Relations for the Grand Rapids Chamber. “This partnership with Kent District Library introduces new resources to support these business owners at the Center for Economic Inclusion.”

Through the partnership, small business owners will have access to the resources through the CEI program, including one-on-one coaching, mentorship, technical assistance and ecosystem navigation services.

Partnering with KDL, a long-standing institution serving the public, is a natural fit. Library resources such as historical and market data, geographical mapping, and more, are crucial in developing small businesses and increasing opportunities for revenue growth.

The partnership will be featured in the expansion of the Chamber’s collaborative workspace. KDL will also provide workshops in the new space on research tools and other business resources to assist entrepreneurs. Construction on the expansion is expected to be completed in June.

“This partnership connects emerging businesses with a wealth of resources, which includes CEI business experts and an extensive collection at 20 locations, a bookmobile and the new CEI space at the Chamber,” said Lance Werner, Executive Director of Kent District Library. “We are excited to be working with the Chamber to promote a strong Kent County economy for everyone, particularly minority-owned businesses.”

The CEI was inspired by an assessment that found of the 11,000 area businesses with revenues above $250K, only 70 (.6%) were minority owned. This highlights that despite the abundance of resources and community organizations available locally, there are still significant barriers to the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses.

Through the partnership with KDL, the Chamber has access to a trusted source of information that can help deliver on its mission to promote a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all. The partnership will also support the CEI’s goal of providing 150 one-on-one business consultations annually.

While its major focus will be to serve minority-owned businesses, CEI and the partnership with KDL will serve all small businesses, including women-owned, veteran-owned and LGBTQIA+ owned. More information on the Center for Economic Inclusion can be found here:

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Kent District Library