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1/19/2017 - Holland, Michigan – Failure:Lab, an international movement with the mission of eliminating the fear of failure and encouraging intelligent risk taking, is coming to Holland’s Park Theatre on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Community members, entrepreneurs, students and anyone looking to learn from raw, personal, thought-provoking stories and lessons of failure, coupled with live entertainment, are encouraged to attend.

“These stories are meant to inspire us to not fear failure, but rather view it as a stepping stone to other great things to come,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “Entrepreneurs who often experience higher rates of risk, and therefore often higher risks of failure, should prepare to be doubly inspired by these stories.”

Failure:Lab is hosted by Lakeshore Advantage in partnership with the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce and is the first Holland SmartZone event this year. Given the SmartZone’s role in assisting startups and budding businesses to achieve their next milestones, entrepreneurs and community members with big dreams are specifically encouraged to attend.

“With this incredible lineup of talented business and community leaders making themselves vulnerable in this setting, the stories and lessons are sure to challenge, impact and inspire,” said Jane Clark, president, West Coast Chamber. "Failure:Lab Holland is a must-attend event for those looking to grow personally and professionally.”

The event will showcase personal stories of failure from six successful West Michigan business and community leaders. They are:

  • Austin Asamoa-Tutu, Director of Technical Services, Worksighted
  • Luciano Hernandez, President, Tiger Studios
  • Jennifer Owens, President, Lakeshore Advantage
  • David Tebo, Superintendent, Hamilton Community Schools
  • Pastor Willie James Watt Jr. Founder & Executive Director, ESCAPE Ministries
  • Dr. Mirka Wilderer, Vice President & General Manager, Evoqua Water Technologies

Local entertainers, mostly musical, will showcase their talents between stories. Audience engagement will be supported with Twitter prompt and designated moments of reflection throughout the evening.

Consumers Energy, with a history rooted in entrepreneurism, is the title sponsor of Failure:Lab Holland. Consumers Energy was born over 130 years ago when a Jackson, MI-based farmer with an electricity hobby started a small business lighting up streets in downtown Jackson.

“Consumers Energy is excited to partner with Lakeshore Advantage through Failure:Lab as another innovative way to support business entrepreneurs and the local community,” said Lisa Gustafson, the company’s executive director of Business Customer Care.

“We started small, and today are proud to deliver hometown service through 7,500 coworkers across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula as one of the state’s largest and most enduring companies.”

The Park Theatre is located at 248 South River Avenue, Holland, Michigan. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students, and are available at

About Failure:Lab
Failure:Lab began in 2012 by a group of professionals in West Michigan, in an effort to eliminate the fear of failure and encourage intelligent risk taking. The event showcases local community members as storytellers and entertainers who share personal stories of failure, publish crowdsourced lessons, and instigate discussion.

About Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit economic development organization that catalyzes resources to drive economic growth in West Michigan. Lakeshore Advantage works to maintain a robust primary business base at all stages of development, from startups to large world-class corporations. Lakeshore Advantage is the administrator of the Holland SmartZone.

Lakeshore Advantage links area companies with the tools and resources needed for continued growth in Ottawa County. In 2016, Lakeshore Advantage assisted with 26 growth projects resulting in over $205 million dollars in new private sector investment and 1,052 new jobs.


1/17/17, Zeeland, Michigan – Lakeshore Advantage announces the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors:

• Scott Brooks, President, Brooks Capital Management and Partner, IPA
• Steve Ramus, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Perrigo
• Dr. Mirka Wilderer, Vice President and General Manager, Evoqua Water Technologies 

The 20-member Lakeshore Advantage Board of Directors, comprised primarily of private sector business leaders, directs the overall strategic policy of the non-profit economic development organization.

“Our newest board members bring a broader perspective of investment experience and manufacturing technologies while widening our represented geographical footprint to include northern Ottawa and Allegan counties,” said Mike Ramierz, Lakeshore Advantage board chair. “Mirka, Scott and Steve are perfect additions to our already robust team.”

Lakeshore Advantage board members serve a two-year term. Service for these three new members began January 1, 2017 and will continue through the end of 2019.

The three were introduced at Lakeshore Advantage’s Annual Meeting and will replace outgoing member Chelsea Brown, Human Resources Manager, Metal Flow. One board member seat remains vacant.

A full list of the Lakeshore Advantage Board of Directors can be viewed on the Lakeshore Advantage website:

Left to right: Scott Brooks, President, Brooks Capital Management and Partner, IPA; Steve Ramus, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Perrigo; and Dr. Mirka Wilderer, Vice President and General Manager, Evoqua Water Technologies.

About Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit economic development organization that catalyzes resources to drive economic growth in West Michigan. In 2016, Lakeshore Advantage assisted companies with 26 growth projects resulting in over $205 million dollars in new private sector investment and 1,052 jobs.  Lakeshore Advantage links area companies with the tools and resources needed for continued growth in Ottawa County. More information is available at


11/15/2016 // ZEELAND, MICH – Lakeshore Advantage presented Fred Bauer, chairman and CEO of Gentex, with the Innovation Trailblazer award at the organization’s annual meeting that celebrated innovation in West Michigan. This video tribute to Fred Bauer, who started manufacturing fire safety products at Gentex in 1974, was shared at the meeting prior to him receiving the award.

“Lakeshore Advantage is doing great things, working with businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Bauer in remarks after accepting the award. “It’s important for established business leaders to walk along and mentor entrepreneurs to ensure and contribute to their successes.”

During the presentation, Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage, shared that among the top ten manufacturing employers in Ottawa County over the last 30 years, Gentex steadily climbed to the top. Gentex went from the 10th largest manufacturing employer in Ottawa County in 1996 to the largest manufacturing employer in Ottawa County in 2016.

“Employers who innovate grow,” said Owens. “Gentex is an organization that embodies our culture of innovation in West Michigan. They continually improve and find new and different ways to research, discover, develop, implement and provide quality products that customers need, decade after decade.”

Fred Bauer revolutionized the fire protection industry with the world's first dual-sensor photoelectric smoke detector - a device less prone to false alarms yet quick to detect slow, smoldering fires, as Gentex’s first manufactured product. Today, Gentex is an industry product development leader in the aerospace, fire protection, and automotive industries, with products including the auto-dimming car mirrors and aircraft windows.

Three hundred investors and guests gathered to celebrate “Innovation in Action” at the Lakeshore Advantage annual meeting. Highlights included:
·       A video compilation of innovation at a sampling of area companies and organizations: Hamilton Community Schools, BizStream Academy, Ottawa County, Tiger Studio and Jolt Energy Storage.
·       An Innovation In Action handout to be scanned using the LAYAR app to then view the full versions of each innovation story from the compilation video.
·       An Innovation Showcase, with founders of some of the region’s up-and-coming startups and their products: Encoris, Fathom, PrograMax, Ring Cam, Tiger Tech and Volta Power Systems.
·       A Lakeshore Advantage update, including a year-to-date return on investment of $151 for every $1 invested.
·       The Grand Rapids Community College Discover Manufacturing Mobile Lab with virtual welder, 3-D printer, mini-mill and CAD stations for attendees to tour.

“Along the Lakeshore, innovation occurs naturally for a great number of our organizations. It’s in our regional culture,” said Lakeshore Advantage board chair Mike Ramirez. “Continue to innovate, to look through a new lens to do things better, differently.”

Businesses are encouraged to share their innovation stories with Lakeshore Advantage throughout the coming year. Quotes submitted by area business leaders in the region were shared throughout the program to serve as words of wisdom on what inspires them to innovate at their organizations.

“Continued innovation demands that the organization combat complacency by creating a culture of perpetual restlessness.  You can never allow the organization to feel that it has arrived.  Instead, everyone must be driven by and focused on the excitement of coming up with the next big thing,” commented Fred Bauer, on creating a culture of innovation in the workplace.

Pioneer Construction, Fifth Third Bank and Edify North sponsored the meeting. Lakeshore Advantage announced they will be hosting an investor meeting where the organization will unveil their year-end numbers in January, 2017.

Assets from the 2016 Lakeshore Advantage Annual Meeting, including presentation, video and program can be found here

Lakeshore Advantage Annual Meeting 2016: Innovate

The Lakeshore Advantage annual meeting celebrated Innovation in Action in our region. 

View the full program

View the presentation

Download the Innovation In Action video card

View the following Innovation In Action videos:

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