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‘Holland State Park Playground’ Crowdfunding Campaign Goal Met in Just One Week

7/21/2016 // HOLLAND, MICH –Holland State Park Beach will have a new playground for its two million annual visitors to enjoy, thanks to the generosity of those who donated money to support this project. The goal to raise $17,000 by August 8th was met on Monday, July 18th, just one week after the crowdfunding campaign began. The $17,000 raised will be matched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC’s) Public Spaces & Community Places program.

“This is everybody’s playground, with a real, collaborative community effort, and again I’m reminded of what a generous, supportive community in which we live,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “We are excited to be part of the campaign, mobilizing the tools available through the MEDC to offer another great amenity for kids and families at the Holland State Park.”

The project was started by Sally Starr, a retired teacher with a dream to improve the Holland State Park for the thousands of children who visit the beach each summer. Thanks to her efforts, along with Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU), Lakeshore Advantage, Carter’s Kids, and the MEDC, this playground will become a reality.

Sally visited the Lakeshore Advantage offices with her dream to see how the organization might be able to help her raise the $34,000 needed to match the Lake Michigan Credit Union financial support. Lakeshore Advantage worked with the MEDC to implement a fairly new program that matches local dollars raised for projects that focus on “activation of public spaces and community places.” Using Detroit-based Patronicity as the online crowdfunding platform, the community donated $17,000 to the project, which the state will match to achieve the total amount needed for the playground to be built. 

“These campaigns work best when they are community-imagined and community-led,” said MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki. “The timeframe for meeting the fundraising goal speaks volumes to the excellent examples of citizen leadership and community contribution in the area.” 

Lake Michigan Credit Union, who provided half of the funds for the project (an additional $35,000, with playground equipment and installation being $65,000), expects to be able to add extra elements within the structure’s footprint with the additional money raised. These amenities may include additional benches, slides, a sound element, a climber and others. Donations are accepted at until August 8th.  

To complement the project need and information communicated through this online campaign, Lakeshore Advantage interns Katie Hoffswell and Chris Grote spent a day at the Holland State Park, taking video of kids playing on the current, aging play equipment and talking about a new structure. Lakeshore Advantage shared the fundraising initiative and efforts through media, social media and with current investors, who offered significant financial support. Major donors for the project include Boar’s Head Provisions, Gentex, Haworth, Herman Miller, and LG Chem Michigan, Inc.

"I would like to express my gratitude to all of you that have so generously donated to the building of the Holland State Park playground!” said Starr. “It is so exciting to see my vision take shape and I am thankful for the continued donations on the Patronicity site.”

Playground construction is scheduled to begin the week of August 8th and will take a little over a week to complete. More details about a public unveiling and ribbon cutting will be announced at a later time.

“This campaign started just this spring and kids will have a chance to play on the new structure well before the summer’s end,” said Matt Cook, Assistant Vice President of Community Relations with LMCU. “Anytime we can affect positive change in a community is a win-win for everyone.” 



7/20/2016 // HOLLAND, MICH –The public has voted. On Thursday evening, the Top 5 will pitch their business ideas, and local judges will choose a $5,000 winner. This event is free, open to the public, and is serving as the stage to launch HOLLAND SMARTZONE programming support for our local entrepreneurial community.

“There has been a tremendous excitement over this event so far, with more ideas submitted than for any other 5x5 Night and heated voting,” said Brooke Corbin, Innovation Solutions manager at Lakeshore Advantage. “If you know entrepreneurs, have thought about starting your own business, would like to invest in a startup, are supporting a local idea or just want to be a part of the next big thing for our community, this is a can’t miss event.”

Twenty-five ideas were submitted to the website, open for public vote from June 23rd through July 14th.  More than 1,450 votes were cast to decide the Top 5 ideas to be pitched at 5x5 Night at CityVu Events, downtown Holland, MI on July 21st with the program starting promptly at 5pm. The Top 5 include:
·       Stir It Up Bakery – Bakery producing high-quality goods made by special needs young adults in the community.
·       Not Your Mother’s Laundry – Weekly laundry service delivering clean, folded laundry back within two days.
·       Migration Surf – Great Lakes-specific custom surf and paddleboard products and repair.
·       Just Another Fairytale – Online bridesmaid dress marketplace for resale.
·       Project Equip – Empowering individuals with tools and training to create more opportunity.

Though it was the public who voted for the Top 5, a panel of five judges will ultimately decide on the evening’s $5,000 prizewinner. These judges represent diverse business backgrounds and will lean on their experiences to provide feedback to startups and to choose the competition’s winner. Judges for the Holland event include:
·       Eric Post of Varnum Law
·       Fred Molnar of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
·       Jane Clark of the West Coast Chamber
·       Chuck Reid of Charter House Innovations
·       Brett VanderKamp of New Holland Brewing Company

“We at Varnum support entrepreneurs at every stage of growth. For the past five years, we have provided free legal services to more than 220 startups through our MiSpringboard program and have seen first-hand the difference they are making in the community and our economy,” said Eric Post, Associate at Varnum, “We also understand the importance of a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs, and are thrilled to be contributors at this inaugural Holland SmartZone program launch."

As part of the evening’s presentation, the HOLLAND SMARTZONE will preview programming that has been created in partnership with the West Coast Chamber to help support high-tech, high-growth entrepreneurs. The first program, the Entrepreneurial Support Network (ESN) will pair entrepreneurs with service providers, specifically in the areas of web development, marketing, finance/accounting, human resources, legal/IP and business plan development. Unveiled at the event will be 23 service providers in the community who are early adopters of the program, offering in-kind services to support emerging companies.

Past 5x5 Night winners will also be present to report on what the competition has meant for their businesses. The public is encouraged to attend this event that is shaping up to be a celebration of startup businesses and launch of the programs to support them through the HOLLAND SMARTZONE. 

Following 5x5 Night, the conversation will continue across the street with drinks provided at The Treehuis (31 E. 8th St, Third Floor (above Lokers)), an all-new shared workspace for startups and the small businesses supporting Holland's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

More about Holland SmartZone at Start Garden is the administrator of the Grand Rapids SmartZone and the facilitator of 5X5 Night. Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit economic development organization that catalyzes resources to drive economic growth in West Michigan, and the administrator of the Holland SmartZone.

Crowdfunding campaign launched for the ‘Holland State Park Playground’ Project

For project details and to donate, please visit:


07/13/2016 - Lansing, Mich. – The Holland State Park beach will soon receive a formal playground through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Lakeshore Advantage, and Carter’s Kids announced today. The campaign will be offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $17,000 by August 8, the Holland State Park Playground project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. 

“Supporting community-led and driven projects is what the Public Spaces, Community Places program was created to do,” said MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki. “This project is an excellent example of that citizen leadership transformed into supported developments and we are pleased to partner with and provide resources to this effort.”

The funds raised during this campaign will build a safe, inclusive, and exciting playscape that will enrich the existing recreational opportunities at Holland State Park. There is currently no space for organized play and few options to engage children in a secure environment. This project uses the ideas of one local grandmother, amplified with the help of Lake Michigan Credit Union and local landscape architects, to make them a reality.

The park will be constructed by a team from TV personality Carter Oosterhouse’s nonprofit charity Carter’s Kids. Lakeshore Advantage, a nonprofit economic development organization that drives business growth in West Michigan, provided support through developing the marketing and supporting the fundraising strategy.

“Holland State Park is an incredible community asset that attracts visitors from all over the world,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “The investment by the MEDC and community in this playground will ensure the thousands of kids who visit the park on a daily basis can truly enjoy this shining example of Pure Michigan beauty.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, MSHDA, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity where local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, non-profits and other business entities can apply at

Today’s Featured Category for 5x5 Business Idea Competition

5x5 Night voting closes on July 14. Each day, we will feature a category to highlight some of the great ideas submitted. Only five will be chosen for the 5x5 Night competition on July 21. Who do you want to see present?

Today's featured categories: For the Mission Driven and Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous (July 13)

Tiger Tech
Solar powered light and motivation activated lights that can be used to turn your vehicle up to your style or safety standards! These lights can be used for on the water or on the road to add visibility without the hassle of rewiring. 

A new way to eat that, this idea embodies a unique environment for those people that are looking for a little more out of their dining experience.

This blue tooth enabled pushbutton attaches to any pillbox. The purpose? To allow brain injury rehab facilities an data driven approach to evaluate whether or not a patient is able to perform daily living tasks prior to decreasing their level of care and the patient regaining their independence. 

A Safe Way
When an animal comes into a clinic, there is risk of a harm to personnel in attempting to provide an injectable anesthetic. This unique method, called the ICevac system, provides for a faster, less stressful induction of anesthesia.

D-Cap Magnetic Bottle OpenerA simple solution to open your brew.

Cloud seed your theory.


For The Mission Driven (July 13)

Stir It Up
This bakery is dedicated to producing and selling high-quality goods created by the talents of the special needs young adults in the community. As a for-profit social enterprise, their goal is to take the charity out of special needs and show people what individuals with special needs are capable of.

Season for a Reason
These seasoned salts are different than others on the market because the heat component takes place of the sugar most commonly used in other seasoned salts and provides a donated meal to someone in need for every jar purchased.

Project Equip
Empowering individuals by giving them the tools and training they need to imagine and pursue a different life for themselves. There are many creatives who emerge from the middle/upper class but what would happen if you create space for creatives who are living in poverty to use their perspective, voice, and untapped potential to penetrate the photography and design community?

Adaptive Mobility
Getting older is something we have to do but acting your age is not. Does getting older mean we have to trade our homes for assisted living?  The lift is designed to help caregivers and nurses provide patients with more independent care. This device is designed to reduce the amount of equipment needed thus making fewer transfers necessary. Fewer transfers means less chance of injury to the patient and caregiver.

Party Angel
An idea that facilitates donations from companies who have party rental equipment that provides a birthday party for a child whose family could otherwise not afford one.

Save the Season
West Michigan is very diverse in what we are able to grow and we have a great number of small farms trying to do the right thing and grow responsible, sustainable produce providing nutritious food for our community. Save the Season allows their product for to be reused for extra revenue and less waste, without the burden of expensive equipment and their time.

For the Business Owner (July 12)

Concerned about your security in an ever-increasing Internet of Things World? This cyber security platform for parents, educators, and businesses both small and large incorporates comprehensive security, management and monitoring into the same platform. Not only can you add, remove, and restrict apps from being installed on devices, or even restrict certain device features, content, and settings, but you can also view a full history report of each activity.  

Looking for an innovative approach for your hiring process? Interested in making it hiring the process more efficient and increase the stick rate with long term employees? Wedge’s video interview platform reduces the paperbound process, and allows you to get to know an individual virtually while still maintaining the first impression and authenticity check done in an in person interview, reducing turnover rates from mistakes in hiring.


Money Saving Monday (July 11)

Just another Fairytale
Bridesmaid dresses are pretty, but also pretty pricey. Especially for a dress you wear once that than begins to just take up space in your over packed closet. So how great would it be if your blushing bride told you the brand and style of the dress she chose and before paying retail you could look it up on our website for a fraction of the price? Now you can with Just another Fairytale-- an online marketplace for the resale of bridesmaid dresses.

Looking for a safer, faster, easier, cheaper, and greener way to use utilize promotion space? The biggest expense and inconvenience with banners and banner promotions currently is the cost and logistics of the bucket trucks/lifts, which typically exceed the cost of the banners themselves.

For the Fitness Fanatic (July 10)

Envision Gold
Envision Gold offers customized speed, agility and weightlifting training to teams, small groups and individuals looking to improve their game and have an edge over their competitors. The athletes who train at Envision Gold will work with highly qualified personal trainers and will have access to the state of the art equipment including specialized treadmills and weightlifting equipment.

Form Trainer
This application will optically track a user’s movement using a mobile device’s camera, providing feedback to perform movements more effective and efficient. This provides performance improvements and injury prevention.

With this technology, the way the world-views energy generation will change by making it as easy as working out in order to provide electrical power.  Currently, there are only cardio equipment machines out there that create electricity but none that have tried to do the same for strength-training exercises such as dead lifting, squatting and benching.  The team plans to create a competition, sort of like CrossFit but “ElectriFit” where you compete to create the most energy. 

Foodies (July 9)

Coldpress Co.
Juicing is what all of the cool kids are doing and Coldpress Co. is located locally, on the Lakeshore. All of their fruits and vegetables come from local Michigan farms. Each 16oz bottle of Coldpress Co. juice contains almost 5 pounds of organic produce, which with its unique process allowing for maximum health benefits with every sip. Coldpress Co. juice is gluten free, soy free, vegan friendly & never contains added sugars or dyes.

Ground to Glass Brew Farm
Who doesn’t love a good Brew? Ground to Glass Brew Farm will be located in Hart, Michigan and plans to grow hops as well as other brewing ingredients including mead, nuts, grains, ect. With the popularity of brewing and home brewing increasing dramatically, they provide brewers with ingredients that are locally grown and truly considered “ground to glass”.

Zest is a platform between rising chefs and food enthusiasts and provides an easy way to fit delicious cooking with a busy lifestyle. Whether experimenting in the kitchen as a hobby or serving customers in a restaurant, rising chefs have immense creativity waiting to be shared.

Smal Markets
Easy to make soup mixes in a jar.

For the Adventurer (July 8)

Migration Surf
The greatest thing about the great lakes is you can enjoy being waterside without the salt and critters and without sacrificing your thrill seeking activities--including surfing! Migration is an outdoor brand specializing in custom handcrafted surfboards, and the hope of becoming the representative brand for the Great Lakes adventurer.

Mitten Coast Surf Co.
A company that strives to be more than screen-printed tee shirts with catchy slogans or mass-produced vinyl stickers--this is a team of makers handcrafts high-end hollow wood paddle-boards, surfboards, skateboards and paddles with a desire is to expand offerings to cut and sew apparel, starting with board shorts and women’s swimwear.


For Those Always On-the-Go (July 7)

Grocery Getter
Frustrated wasting time finding the products you need every time you head to the grocery store? Shoppers will now have a new medium that allows them to find their products easily, communicate information on their overall experience to the stores they visit, share grocery lists and product information with friends, and receive coupons directly to them based on their interests and past purchases.

Not Your Mother’s Laundry
Tired of the tedious and time-consuming task of doing laundry? Not your Mother’s Laundry is a weekly laundry service, who picks up your laundry, takes it off-site to wash, dry, fold, and then delivers it back to you back to you.

Have a busy schedule? Having trouble fitting in trying something new? MyWayy allows users to build custom morning, afternoon, or evening routines that help users navigate their time seamlessly. With voice notifications, countdown timers, and a smart recommendation tool that suggests to users new routines or habits, MyWayy makes learning a new skill or developing better habits fun and easy.



6/29/2016 // HOLLAND, MICH –The call for big ideas is now open. HOLLAND SMARTZONE, in partnership with Grand Rapids Start Garden and Lakeshore Advantage, is hosting this pitch competition for early stage ideas at CityVu Events on July 21st at 5:00pm. The community is invited to submit ideas, vote for their favorites and attend the 5x5 Night event.

Anyone with a business idea who could use $5,000 to advance it is encouraged to enter the competition online at The sooner the better, as public voting is open concurrently with idea submission. People vote for the ideas they would like to see presented at the 5x5 Night event, where five entrepreneurs pitch for five minutes to five judges, with the winner taking home $5,000. Voting and idea submission are open now through July 14th.

Holland resident Elsa Vogel, founder of Pieces of Me, a company that uses an individual’s personality traits to create custom wearable merchandise unique to every person, won a 5x5 Night event in August 2015. Her idea gained traction through a collegiate entrepreneurial program, but proof of concept is important to receive investor funding. As a recent graduate, Elsa felt stuck and was unsure of how to get started.

“I had a great idea and big plans, and that's exactly what 5x5 Night was built for,” said Elsa. “Winning 5x5 Night helped me launch my first product in March. I couldn't be more excited about the progress and the future of my business.”

Elsa is scheduled to speak at the Holland 5x5 Night event. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the Premiere Sponsor, and Varnum Law is the Title Sponsor of the event.

“The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is enthusiastic about supporting the 5x5 Night in Holland” said Fred Molnar, VP of Entrepreneurism and Innovation for the MEDC.  “We are especially pleased about the collaboration between Holland and Grand Rapids. Working together to leverage each other’s strengths to help build the entrepreneurial community in West Michigan is precisely the goal of the host SmartZone and satellite relationship.”   

The Holland SmartZone, in partnership with the West Coast Chamber, is also building an Entrepreneurial Support Network (ESN) to pair entrepreneurs with service providers, specifically in the areas of web development, marketing, finance/accounting, human resources, legal/IP and business plan development. Early contributors of this program will receive special recognition at the 5x5 Night event. Organizations interested in being part of the ESN can apply at

“Many successful area businesses received some sort of assistance and guidance early on,” said Jane Clark, West Coast Chamber president. “We highly encourage Chamber members with the interest, capacity and talent to help entrepreneurs to be part of this network.”

The Holland SmartZone will support high-tech, high-growth entrepreneurs, and plans to preview programming that will be offered at the 5x5 Night event, including the ESN.

“As one of the first efforts of the SmartZone partnership, we’re excited to officially launch the Holland SmartZone to the community, with programming, connections and other efforts to attract and grow high-tech startups,” said Brooke Corbin, innovation solutions manager at Lakeshore Advantage. “The 5X5 Night event is the perfect stage for our programming debut, embodying the hope and possibilities of what is to come.”

More about Holland SmartZone at Start Garden is the administrator of the Grand Rapids SmartZone and the facilitator of 5X5 Night. Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit economic development organization that catalyzes resources to drive economic growth in West Michigan, and the administrator of the Holland SmartZone.


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