Lakeshore Advantage rolls out ‘Certify Your Business’ series

Jennifer Owens Courtesy Lakeshore Advantage

Lakeshore Advantage is offering a new video series designed to help women-, minority-, veteran- and LGBT-owned businesses become certified.

The Zeeland-based economic development agency on Thursday released the “Certify Your Business” video series to offer education on the benefits of certification for diverse businesses. The series features the lead certification support providers for women-, veteran-, minority- and LGBT-owned businesses and provides an overview of the process, cost and timeline for certifying.

“Each certification process, depending on your certification category, is a bit different,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “(There’s) no need for businesses to worry because there are expert support organizations that are ready to help featured in the video series.”

The series

  • Joe Matthews Courtesy Gentex

    “Why Certify Your Business” video with Jim Bos, vice president of global procurement at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, and Joe Matthews, vice president of purchasing and diversity officer at Gentex, discussing their companies’ successes in working with minority business enterprises (MBEs) and why a diverse business owner should consider going through the certification process from the corporate buyer’s perspective.

  • A four-part interview series:
  • “How to Certify Your Woman-Owned Business,” with Michelle Richards, executive director of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council
  • “How to Certify Your LGBTQ-Owned Business,” with Kevin Heard, board president of the Detroit LGBT Chamber of Commerce
  • “How to Certify Your Minority-Owned Business,” with Andrew Sims, vice president of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council
  • “How to Certify Your Veteran-Owned Business,” with Roderick Rickman, president of the Veteran-Owned Business Roundtable
  • An upcoming webinar, “The Corporate Buying Process,” at 1 p.m. Feb. 25, to raise awareness of the benefits of intentional purchasing programs for area companies with a panelist of business leaders who have supplier diversity programs in place. Registration is available here.

Support for this project came from Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council members that have established supplier diversity programs in place. Lakeshore Advantage worked with local leaders to create the Certify Your Business series to further support Michigan Small Business Restart Grant applicants and other diverse businesses by sharing why a business might consider certification and how they can go about the process.

“Realize that starting a supplier diversity program is a journey,” said Matthews, of Gentex. “Know what you spend and with whom you spend. You might be surprised to see opportunities that already exist to expand your supplier pool. The potential for creating impactful business relationships is evenly distributed across the supplier community. Opportunity is not. Supplier diversity provides opportunity across the entire supply base.”

The certification process connects diverse businesses to mentors and a support network to help them succeed, and it also increases the number and variety of vetted businesses for corporate buyers to assess when making purchasing decisions.

“There’s a tremendous (number) of opportunities in the Holland/Zeeland area for those who take advantage of MBE certification,” said Sims, of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. “You don’t have to travel far to chase work.”

The Certify Your Business series is underwritten by a Consumers Energy Foundation grant.

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