Chamber rolls out development program for minority businesses


The annual Minority Business Showcase by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce features dozens of businesses. Photo via

A program tailored to accelerate the growth of local minority-owned businesses is inching closer toward launch.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for ELEVATE Minority Business, a hands-on business improvement and development program for minority-owned establishments.

It is currently accepting applications to join the inaugural class, slated to launch in April.

The program

Program participants will be exposed to a support system that includes direct consulting, peer roundtables and advisory expertise. The program is designed to help with the vision, direction and leadership required to manage a more complex business.

ELEVATE Minority Business is intended to enhance the abilities of successful minority CEOs and owners who want to reach extraordinary growth over the next three to five years and leverage high-growth potential as those companies increase capacity and size. It will facilitate strong supplier connections and assist buying organizations in finding new ways to continue purchasing local.


Ideal participants will meet the following criteria:

  • Based in West Michigan
  • At least 51 percent owned and operated by a person of an ethnic minority
  • Have been in operation for at least three years and employing at least three full-time equivalents
  • At least 60 percent in sales to corporate or government customers and no more than 40 percent in retail sales
  • Have annual revenue of $500,000
  • Operating in one of the following industries: construction, professional/technical services, administrative services, accommodations/food services, health care and social assistance and information technology
  • A desire to grow 10 percent
  • Certified as a Minority Business Enterprise or otherwise capable of completing the certification process
  • Member or intention to become a member of the chamber


The application deadline to join the first class is Feb. 5. To apply, fill out an application form and email it to hughess at grandrapids dot org.

As class sizes are limited to a maximum of 10 participants, applicants will undergo a rigorous application process to determine if the business is best suited to benefit from the program.

Candidates will be asked to submit an in-take form, complete an assessment, participate in an in-depth interview and agree to the program’s annual participation requirements.

Questions may be directed to Sonya Hughes, VP of Inclusion, at hughess at grandrapids dot org or (616) 771-0321.

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