Helping small businesses grow.


The South Haven Region Business Hub is the consequence of caring professionals with successful business careers coming together to foster a new strategy that seeks to capitalize on promising small business formation rates after a decade of stagnation; that seeks to play a role in local economic development strategies designed to foster year around economic growth activity; and to assure the strategy reaches, in particular, the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to provide the tools for them to build wealth.


Making the South Haven Region a place where entrepreneurs want to start and grow.

Guiding Principles

Combining collective knowledge, connections, and resources of the community, creating initiatives, and partnerships for ALL our local entrepreneurs.

Partners and supporters include the City of South Haven, South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Michigan College, Market Van Buren, Van Buren Township, Michigan Manufacturing Alliance, Michigan State University Agriculture Extension, MEDC, Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance, and SBDC Michigan.

Activities and Accomplishments

Workshop Series for Startups/Early Startups 2022

  • Simple Steps to start Your Business
  • Small Business Roundtable #1
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Attract, Retain & Train Employees
  • Accounting Basics
  • Marketing 101
  • Meet the Funders

Growth Series for Businesses Looking to Scale 2023

  • Introduction to Growth Series
  • Your Financials and How to Conduct an In-depth Review
  • Human Resources and Tax Liabilities
  • Developing Your Customer Strategy for Your Product Mix
  • Developing Your Internal Processes for Consistency and Success
  • Legal Aspects of Running a Business

Community Wide Roundtable Discussions

  • Launchpad for local small business owners to discuss the wins (and challenges) of owning a small business.
  • Learn how to overcome obstacles from others
  • Make an impact with your input
  • Share and minimize your challenges

Clients successes with South Haven Region Business Hub programming include:

Startup Successes

  • A farmer in rural Bangor wants to become USDA Certified.
  • A mattress retailer is relocating to South Haven.
  • An HVAC contractor from Bangor is  launching soon.
  • A couple from Wisconsin are opening a bed & breakfast and winery in South Haven.
  • A young entrepreneur is in the process of raising funds for a South Haven hostel.
  • An accounting firm has launched in South Haven and is serving multiple clients.
  • Local and regional partners referred more than 17 people to the workshops.

Growth Successes

  • A mentor has been assigned to a couple who have begun a recycling plant and are looking to grow and hire 8 new employees.
  • A South Haven business owner is preparing to scale his development business in multiple locations while working with a mentor.
  • 12 local business service providers served as presenters/moderators.
  • A business group has been established on Facebook for confidential discussions.
  • The Growth Series, a 14-week intensive business growth program is launched.
  • 12 volunteers serve as one-on-one mentors and financial consultants.

Funding for Growth

One of the major hurdles for startups is access to capital. In May 2022 the Lakeshore Capital Consortium was initiated based on a best practice from the City of Philadelphia. The goal was to create a point of access for those struggling to find funding that created a one-stop pre-application for lenders. We are calling it a lending triage, comparing it to an emergency room where multiple lenders would be able to view a business’s request for lending and create solutions for entrepreneurs rather than barriers.

Our goal was to expand a strong startup community and build the reputation of being small business friendly and becoming a place where startups know they are supported. An initial cohort of 7 financial institutions, including an array of local banks, credit unions, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and others have pledged to participate in the Capital Consortium program.

An additional goal of the Lakeshore Capital Consortium was to identify gaps in the funding ecosystem. The gap is in the lack of capital for start-up organizations—especially those with no down payment, little to no collateral, or a low credit score. CDFI’s and several local lenders have stepped in to fill this gap but more needs to be done.

The next year will be spent identifying strategies to mitigate barriers and expand the tools needed to fill gaps in the funding ecosystem.

Sponsored by the City of South Haven, South Haven Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Michigan College.

Congratulations to Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry for receiving his first loan through Northern Initiatives. With help from his SCORE mentor, Cheri Bales, Gregory did a fantastic job on developing his business plan and showing real entrepreneurial spirit. We wish you much success, and look forward to your upward movement. You are a wonderful role model.

—Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry

I appreciate your ears for listening, your eyes that see my vision and your heart that makes you who you are.  I thank you for your time. You are making a difference.

—Shawntel Lindsey, Director, The Artbor Community Connections Center

The WMed Innovation Center is a perfect environment for innovation to grow and become a successful commercial enterprise.


WMU Business Connection logo

Whether you are seeking a research partner or want to enlist the help of student groups in developing business plans, or just looking for ways to engage with WMU, the Business Connection office can find the resource to help move your business forward.


A loan (from Local Initiatives Support Corporation) helped expand our cafe to triple our seating, add a kids space, increase much needed staff work areas, and make other improvements to the space.


MEL logo

The Michigan eLibrary (MeL) is the State of Michigan’s digital library. It has excellent resources available to Michigan residents at no cost.


Western Michigan University’s Starting Gate helped me take an idea and transform it into a much more attainable reality. Whether providing talks with investors and business owners or accountability, the ultimate goal is helping your business succeed.

—Peter Shutt

Kalamazoo County Land Bank logo

The Kalamazoo Land Bank did robust community engagement around the vision and gave us something to work with that was solidly desired by people in the neighborhood. Having a vision meant we had to protect it. That’s something I thank the Land Bank for. It was difficult. It didn’t make anything faster or easier, but we got a better project in the end as a result of it.

—Matt Hollander

Buy Local logo

Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo is a hard working grassroots group focused on the greater Kalamazoo community and its small businesses. Their events and networking opportunities are the best!

—Cheri Bales

SBDC logo

Michigan SBDC is a great company providing top notch service to local businesses all over Michigan. The consultants are professional and the student workers contribute with excellent work!

—Martin Herman Sorensen