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5/24/2017 // Holland, Michigan –The public has voted. On Wednesday evening, the Top 5 will pitch their business ideas at Start Garden’s 5x5 Night, and local judges will choose a $5,000 winner. This event is free, open to the public, and is held at the JW Center at Haworth.

“Entrepreneurialism is a core attribute of Haworth. It is a talent and orientation we look for in our members and our distribution partners,” noted Paul Nemschoff, Haworth’s Vice President of Global Strategy. “As a vibrant community partner, we are especially excited to welcome 5x5 and hear new exciting business ideas.”

This event is being put on by Lakeshore Advantage on behalf of the Holland SmartZone, which provides resources to entrepreneurs and encourages technology advancement and business creation. One of the five companies that will present next week is located within the SmartZone, while two others are from Ottawa County. The Top Five include:
• The KLYP
• Locker Lifestyle
• AgHelp
• MyUnoCard
• Parker Design

Though it was the public who voted for the Top Five, a panel of five judges will ultimately decide on the evening’s $5,000 prizewinner. Judges for the Holland event include:
• Daniel Morrison of Collective Idea
• Paul Nemschoff of Haworth
• Mat Nguyen of Worksighted
• Scott Spoelhof of Bayside Capital
• Pranav Mehta of Priority Health

As part of the evening’s presentation, Zoe Bruyn of Stir It Up Bakery, the winner of the last 5x5 Night in Holland, will be hosting a giveaway as well as speaking about the role that 5x5 Night played in the growth of her business. Included in her winnings that night was the $5,000 prize and in-kind legal services through Varnum.

“We work with entrepreneurs at every stage of growth. For the past six years, we have provided free legal services to more than 340 startups through our MiSpringboard program and have seen first-hand the difference they are making in the community and our economy,” said Eric Post, Partner at Varnum. “We also understand the importance of a strong ecosystem for entrepreneurs, and are pleased to support 5x5 Night events in Holland.”


5/18/2017 // Holland, Michigan –Lakeshore Advantage, in partnership with Grand Rapids Start Garden, is bringing 5x5 Night, a pitch competition for early stage ideas, to Holland this month. The community is invited to vote for their favorite ideas at and attend the 5x5 Night business idea pitch competition event to be held at the JW Center at Haworth on Wednesday, May 31st at 5:00pm.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the community to support and celebrate entrepreneurship, right in the headquarters of one of the leading innovative companies in our region -  Haworth,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “Holland was recently named the Best Small City to Start a Business two years in a row by WalletHub. Come to 5x5 Night to see this energy in action.”

Public voting for ideas is open now through May 22nd. Each voter can select up to five business ideas they’d like to see presented at the 5x5 Night event. The entrepreneurs with the overall top five ideas will each have five minutes to pitch their ideas to attendees and five judges, with the winner taking home $5,000.

Among the 23 business ideas currently up for vote is a self-feeding automatic football throwing machine called the KLYP, submitted by entrepreneurial Hope College students Will VanDommelen, Jake Kozlowski and Stephen Glover. The idea came from Kozlowski’s lack of partners to throw him 100 game speed balls each day to help keep his hand-eye coordination sharp, a requirement for this tight end football player at Hope College. The KLYP has recently gained the attention of Minnesota Viking’s Fullback Zach Line. The two partners are hoping to be one of the five contestants chosen to pitch in the 5x5 Night competition. 

“5x5 Night brings attention to our product and will hopefully spark interest in football fans in our community who could be potential investors,” said Will VanDommelen co-founder and product research and development manager of KLYP. “If we were to win, it would allow us to get our design ideas out of the computer and into physical prototype form.” 

5x5 Night has two corporate sponsors that make this event possible. Varnum is the Title Sponsor of the event and will provide additional in-kind services to the winner of 5x5 Night as part of their ongoing entrepreneurial support efforts including MiSpringBoard. Worksighted, an IT solutions company founded by Hope College alumni that cultivates an internal culture rewarding entrepreneurial thinking, is the Seed Sponsor of the event.

“The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep at Worksighted, so sponsoring the 5x5 event is a natural fit for us,” said Mat Nguyen, Worksighted president. “We’re proud to see the incredible ideas from right out of our community.”


3/28/2017 // Coopersville, Michigan –Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC and Fairlife LLC, announced a collaborative project to add additional onsite wastewater treatment capacity at their 100-acre dairy processing plant in the City of Coopersville.

Support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and City of Coopersville helped pave the way for the $3.7 million upgrade to move forward.  This upgrade will result in $173 million in capital investment and the creation of 52 new jobs.

"Fairlife continues to achieve an astonishing rate of growth,” said Hawk Dobbins, plant engineer at Fairlife, LLC in Coopersville. “This collaborative project will allow our growth to continue unabated and paves the way for long term investment and job creation in West Michigan."

Both companies are expanding operations to include new products and product lines. The increased water treatment capacity will allow Fairlife to add additional capacity to produce fairlife, Core Power and Yup branded products.

“Continental Dairy Facilities is very pleased to partner with the State of Michigan and the Michigan Strategic Fund to identify investment opportunities that recognize growth potential in the state’s dairy industry while working to protect the environment that we all share and cherish,” said Steve Cooper, Chief Operating Officer & General Manager, Continental Dairy.

The increased water treatment capacity will allow Continental Dairy to expand operations to produce butter and buttermilk powder.

“We continue to work with state and local partners to develop solutions to help our world-class employers overcome barriers and grow in the region,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “These partnerships and resources, and continued focus on what our companies need to grow here are necessary to ensure growth and good jobs for our companies and employees.”

Continental Dairy and Fairlife jointly received a Michigan Business Development Program grant, administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in the amount of up to $2,407,000 to be utilized for onsite wastewater treatment upgrades.

“Food and agriculture businesses are one of Michigan’s major economic drivers, and as they continue to diversify and grow, it’s imperative that we invest in improved infrastructure and processing capabilities,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Steve Arwood.

The companies and the City of Coopersville evaluated various options to determine the most economic and fastest way to add wastewater treatment capacity. The City of Coopersville has offered local support of this project through a $1.1 million upgrade to its own wastewater treatment plant.

“Fairlife and Continental Dairy have been a significant economic development success story here and in West Michigan,” said Steven Patrick, City Manager, City of Coopersville. “The continued support from the MEDC through the Michigan Business Development Program grant and the City of Coopersville’s on-going investment in its own wastewater treatment plant will provide the means to allow further investment in growth and job creation. We are very appreciative of the collaboration taking place between the State of Michigan, Continental Dairy and Fairlife, and the City of Coopersville.” 

A long-term regional wastewater solution is the next step for positioning the region for additional food processing company growth. In October, the West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative, an organization made up of economic development partners in the region, supported a $104,600 preliminary engineering design study helping to create an action plan for a proposed implementation of a 20-mile pipeline connecting Coopersville’s wastewater treatment system to the underutilized system in Muskegon County. The West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative and Fairlife are collaborating on funding the study.

“Wastewater infrastructure capacity is a multi-step, intricate, ongoing project, with multiple state and local partners working with business leaders to support business growth for our current and future food processing companies in West Michigan,” said Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator. “We are taking the right steps to evaluate and investigate the best long term solution for our region.”

About Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC
In operation since 2008, Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC produces cream condensed milk and over 300,000 pounds of non-fat dried milk each day. The company is on its fourth expansion, with 93 employees in the state and is a regional dairy ingredient facility that receives milk from four other dairy cooperatives with member dairy farms in 35 Michigan counties.

About Fairlife, LLC
Fairlife LLC was established in 2013 and is a partnership between Select Milk Producers and the Coca-Cola Company, with a goal to produce exceptional quality milk. Fairlife’s patented cold filtration process filters natural milk to increase protein and calcium and decrease lactose and sugars. Current products include fairlife, Core Power and Yup. Fairlife also produces Dunkin’ Donuts ready-to-serve iced coffee. The company has 196 employees in Michigan.










View full Consumers Energy "Energy Ready" assessment here

March 14, 2017 // Ottawa County, Michigan – Two hundred acres of industrially zoned, vacant land near the I-96 and new M-231 bypass in Crockery Township are one step closer to being ready for development, thanks to a completed “Energy Ready” assessment conducted by Consumers Energy. This site, the Crockery Township Industrial Development Park, is the first in Ottawa County to be assessed for the “Energy Ready” program.

“Ottawa County is a burgeoning leader in championing West Michigan’s growing business community,” said Jeff Mayes, Consumers Energy’s director of economic development. “We’re pleased to work with Lakeshore Advantage, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other agencies to meet the long-term energy needs of new and expanding businesses at this Crockery Township location.”

The Consumers Energy team reached out to Lakeshore Advantage to help identify an Ottawa County site that would be an ideal candidate for the program.

Lakeshore Advantage worked with local experts Ken Brandsen and Cheryl Scales at Progressive AE, Dave Ash at Lakewood Construction and Kris DePree, Colliers International Holland, to review potential sites. The team worked together to identify Ottawa County locations and then selected the Crockery Township site as one that could highly benefit from the “Energy Ready” utility readiness assessment to move it forward as an attractive industrial business location.

“The partnership between utilities, business services and industry in West Michigan is outstanding,” said Kris DePree, President, Colliers International Holland and Lakeshore Advantage Board Treasurer. “The team worked fluidly together to encourage business and economic growth in West Michigan.”

Through the “Energy Ready” program, Consumers Energy assesses and determines the site’s energy use potential, including its existing energy infrastructure and estimated costs to adjust the site’s features, based on how an incoming business plans to use the site. Crockery Township Industrial Development Park advantages include: low and high voltage distribution availability, ideally up to 100 MW; competitive electric rate options; next to municipal water and wastewater; and availability of energy efficiency and construction incentives.

“With this additional assessment and marketing assistance, and its prime location, we feel we are in a great position to attract the right business here,” said Leon Stille, Crockery Township Supervisor. “We are pleased that Consumers Energy spent their time and initiative to facilitate this opportunity for development in Crockery Township.”

Consumers Energy’s statewide electric and natural gas service areas cover 68 counties in Michigan. The Crockery Township Industrial Development Park is the 13th “Energy Ready” site in Michigan.

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