Minority Business Celebration

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has honored an advocacy organization and a local banker for their efforts in enhancing minority economic development.

At last week’s Minority Business Celebration, the chamber gave its Advocate of the Year Award to Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Project Blueprint. Patricia Julien, senior vice president of commercial lending at Mercantile Bank of West Michigan, picked up the Financial Services Advocate of the Year Award.

Project Blueprint is a leadership development program that increases minority involvement in the community by recruiting, training and facilitating placement of graduates on local boards of directors.

The 14-year-old program has nearly 350 professionals who are serving on the boards of almost 200 agencies and organizations in West Michigan.

Mercantile Bank’s Julien has demonstrated support for the minority business community through loans, financial advice and reinvestment in minority communities.

She currently has a portfolio of more than $8 million in loans to minority owned businesses, representing financial assistance to more than 50 businesses. Loan purposes include purchase of real estate, refinance of existing debt, construction and real estate improvement projects and working capital.

The chamber’s Minority Business Council works to represent the interests and inclusion of the ethnic minority business community in order to promote the economic development and success of the community’s ethnically diverse businesses.

The Minority Business Celebration is an annual forum to honor the contributions of minority owned businesses in the West Michigan area.           

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