Nonprofit hires business development officer


Karen Benson. Courtesy GROW

A nonprofit focused on support and training for female entrepreneurs has named a new business development officer.

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, or GROW, said this week it hired Karen Benson for the role in the lakeshore area.

The position is partly funded through grants and donations from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Muskegon County and Bonnie Miller.

GROW has been staffing the lakeshore area part-time and teaching several classes through the Innovation Hub in Muskegon.

The addition of Benson will support the expansion of GROW’s services to lakeshore entrepreneurs.

Benson’s role will be to help develop and grow lakeshore businesses. She will deliver and coordinate entrepreneurial training programs, business counseling and mentoring and work with clients in gaining access to capital for starting up or growth.

“I’m excited to help provide greater access to resources and services to entrepreneurs within GROW’s service area, especially along the lakeshore, where I have spent a lot of time throughout my career,” Benson said.

Most recently, Benson served as director of educational partnerships for Olivet Nazarene University’s graduate studies.

Previously, she has worked as the executive director of the Northwest Economic and Industrial Development Corporation, economic development director with Grand Haven’s chamber of commerce, VP of business development at Grand Haven Bank, business development manager at Muskegon Area First and director of innovation services with The Right Place.

“We are grateful to have someone as talented and as experienced as Karen Benson join our team," said Bonnie Nawara, CEO, GROW

Benson is a board member of All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake. She has also served on the boards of Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging and Great Ottawa County United Way.

She holds an M.B.A. from Cornerstone University and an M.S. in merchandising management and marketing from Michigan State University.

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