Lakeshore Advantage to host SURGE Celebration

The outdoor SURGE Celebration will celebrate five years of accomplishments within the Holland SmartZone and will showcase local startup companies. Courtesy Lakeshore Advantage

The economic development agency for Allegan and Ottawa counties will celebrate the years of work that led to the success of local startups at a public event next month.

Zeeland-based Lakeshore Advantage said last week that it is inviting business and community members who support innovation and entrepreneurship to the SURGE Celebration at the Holland Civic Center Place, 150 W. Eighth St. in Holland, from 5-7 p.m. June 17.

The outdoor event will celebrate five years of accomplishments within the Holland SmartZone and will showcase local startup companies.

“Our community has a long history of developing, innovating and making world-renowned products. The resources, provided by the SmartZone and support services developed by our team, will ensure that history continues for many years to come,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “The SURGE Celebration will showcase the years of work and our thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs and startups.”

The SURGE Celebration will bring together leaders and champions of the Holland SmartZone, as well as business and community members interested in fostering a local culture of innovation and learning more about the region’s startup community.

Zeeland-based Gentex, the premier sponsor for the event, will showcase the company’s cutting-edge technology and products, developed and manufactured in West Michigan.

“As a growing tech company and longtime local employer, Gentex remains committed to supporting economic development efforts that help our area grow and maintain its world-class business climate,” said Neil Boehm, chief technology officer at Gentex. “In addition, we know the pandemic has created unique needs among established employers and the startup community alike, which is why we’re further motivated to renew our support for both Lakeshore Advantage and the entrepreneurial resources SURGE provides.”

SURGE, an entrepreneurial support organization managed by Lakeshore Advantage, helps startup companies reach their next growth milestones and receives funding through the Holland SmartZone. The Holland SmartZone, established in 2016, is one of 20 SmartZones throughout Michigan where tech-based companies, entrepreneurs and researchers can locate close to community assets that assist in startup company activity. The Michigan SmartZone network is managed through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The MEDC is a sponsor of the SURGE Celebration in support of statewide entrepreneurship.

“Michigan has a proud reputation for its entrepreneurial spirit and world-class innovation, in part thanks to the passion and commitment of partners like Lakeshore Advantage in supporting startups here in the state,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at the MEDC. “The MEDC is proud to support the work that Lakeshore Advantage has accomplished through its SURGE programs and resources over the past five years to support the West Michigan startup community. We look forward to building on our partnership with them to continue growing Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in the years to come.”

Milestones that Lakeshore Advantage will celebrate at the event include the support of 135 startup companies and entrepreneurs. These companies and entrepreneurs have reported raising more than $38 million in capital and creating or retaining 400 jobs during the past five years.

The SURGE Celebration will include the opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs and view their products on display. Start Garden, an entrepreneurial support organization in Grand Rapids, also will be present, collecting business idea pitches for the Start Garden 100 business ideas pitch competition. Individuals who pitch a business idea at the Start Garden popup booth at the Holland Civic Center Place on June 17 will receive free admission to the SURGE Celebration.

“We invite the community to come out and meet our startups and entrepreneurs and get that firsthand experience of the products and technologies being developed here,” said Amanda Chocko, director of entrepreneurship at Lakeshore Advantage. “It’s one thing to hear that great things are happening; it’s entirely different to come out and enjoy a night of food, fun and connection with this fantastic startup community.”

Registration is required for the SURGE Celebration unless attendees are pitching an idea at the Start Garden 100 booth.

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