Open-house-style event includes over 40 business support organizations, mini workshops, one-on-one consultations and digital business resource guide.
Small business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs looking for resources are in luck. As part of National Small Business Week, the Michigan Small Business Development Center is hosting a Small Business Resource Fair, aimed at connecting those who are interested in starting or scaling their businesses with 46 business support organizations.
Taking place on May 4 from 1 – 5 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, the free open-house-style event is like a job fair, but for businesses! The event's organizers say the goal of the event is to offer small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs direct access to the people and organizations they need to know to be successful.
Attendees can expect to engage with 46 participating agencies, including Michigan Women Forward, West Michigan Works!, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Start Garden, and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“This gathering of Grand Rapids small business resources, organizations and partners truly is unprecedented,” said Ed Garner, Michigan SBDC West Michigan Regional Director and event organizer. “We all exist to help small businesses succeed, and given our focus during National Small Business Week, it’s only fitting that we come together in one location to make it easy for entrepreneurs to tap into our services. The Michigan SBDC is grateful to all our sponsors and participants for making this such a robust event.”
Through the connections available at the event, Small Business Resource Fair attendees can find assistance with funding options, market research, business planning, networking, sales and marketing, social media, business certifications, contracting opportunities, energy assessments and more.
"Often times, many businesses are unaware of all the business resources that are available to them," Garner said. "In the Grand Rapids, area we are fortunate to have a number of nonprofit or governmental agencies like the SBDC that can assists businesses in one way on other. However, because we may not heavily promote our services like the private sector does, awareness of our services may be lacking. By not knowing or connecting with these agencies, aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners may find it more difficult to start or growth their businesses because they do not have the help or resources they need."
In addition, registered attendees will be given access to an electronic version of Michigan SBDC's Business Resource Guide following the event, filled with descriptions and contact info for all participating organizations who were present. Mini-workshops also help round out the event, with topics ranging from Government Contracting 101 to Financing Options for Your Business and Small Business Marketing. One-on-one consultations (limited to 15 minutes) are also available for those looking to connect in a more private consultation area with any of the participating business support organizations.
Garner hopes attendees walk away from the event feeling more empowered and supported in their business endeavors, and know that there's an entrepreneurial ecosystem in place that they have access to and that is truly concerned about their growth and success.
"We hope to make this an annual event so the business community has the opportunity to personally engage with the organizations and people they need to know to increase their probability of success," Garner added.
The Small Business Resource Fair is part of the Michigan SBDC's Uplift Michigan Initiative, a strategic movement designed to ensure equitable access for all diverse entrepreneurs across Michigan.
Though the event is free, registration is encouraged. Learn more by visiting Michigan Small Business Development Center.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.