Helping small businesses grow.

Board of Directors

Debi Howe

Executive Director, Board President

Debi Howe started her company building computer-based models for healthcare organizations with seven employees and grew it to 400 in 12 years, then sold it. She has walked in an entrepreneur’s shoes and understands the fundamentals of running a business and the emotional challenges. Debi has worked tirelessly in the southwest Michigan region to support small business growth and development from startup to sale. She has served as a member of the executive leadership team for SCORE Kalamazoo/SW Michigan Mentors (an SBA program), as chair, vice-chair, and a certified mentor. In 2016 she founded the Greater Kalamazoo Business Resources Network, a nonprofit organization to support small business startup and growth in the Kalamazoo Region. From these efforts, the Can-Do Kalamazoo incubator was able to recreate and follow the GKBRN model to launch. In May 2021 Debi founded the South Haven Region Business Hub with support from the South Haven Region Chamber of Commerce, the City of South Haven, and Lake Michigan College. She also helped launch the Western Michigan University WMed startup and served as Executive Director for the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure for 10 years.

Mike Medema

CFO, Board Vice President, Mentor, Planning Team

Michael Medema is a 10x serial entrepreneur and a local Southwest Michigan resident. Michael is known throughout the country as a leading big data and digital marketing expert.  Michael and his companies have won numerous national awards in the area of innovation, entrepreneurship, digital marketing, company cultures, and scaling rapidly growing companies.  Michael has mentored thousands of startups and small businesses through innovation centers, universities, and his own businesses. In his spare time, Michael teaches entrepreneurship and digital marketing courses at two universities and mentors and consults for other entrepreneurs throughout the country. Owner: Keono Corporation.

John M. “GB” Richmond

Board Treasurer, Planning Team, Accounting Mentor

John M. “GB” Richmond is the founder of Goodbye Money Stress, a company providing much needed financial literacy workshops for groups, as well as offering consulting services for individuals. A “St. Paul moment” led GB to a second B.A., this one in Theological Studies, and some new paths. He relished time he was given teaching high school theology, as general manager of a small Catholic radio station, and as North Region Manager with Mid-West Family SWMI. Each opportunity, a steppingstone providing new experiences that he shares for the benefit of others. GB is also actively involved in serving his community, as an Ambassador with the South Haven Chamber of Commerce, in the South Haven Rotary, where GB is chair of the Youth Services Committee, and in many roles at St Basil’s Catholic Church. Owner: Goodbye Money Stress.

Jennifer Cohen

Board Secretary and Virtual Assistant

Jennifer is a seasoned administrative professional with 30 years of experience. She’s spent her career leading departments, supporting high-level executives, and is now the owner/operator of EssentialJen Virtual Services, where she helps small business owners with the administrative and technical pieces of their businesses.  Whether it’s managing the day-to-day, setting up technology, implementing systems, assisting with marketing and communications, or coordinating events, Jen’s mission is to make life easier for small business owners. Owner: EssentialJen Virtual Assistant.

Cheri Bales, M.A.

Board Member – Marketing and Web, Mentor, Subject Matter Expert

Cheri has spent 30 years in the marketing industry from nonprofit to education and especially small businesses. Cheri provides marketing and communications strategy and support including website development, social and digital marketing, email marketing, graphic design, event planning and implementation. Cheri volunteers as a marketing consultant to South Haven Region Business Hub leadership team and clients, and serves as a SCORE Mentor for Van Buren County and the surrounding area. Owner Hannah/Gold Communications.

Trevor Brooks

Board Member, Housing Planning Commission Representative, Mentor

Trevor Brooks is a dynamic and visionary entrepreneur and digital marketing expert. He is the founder of Ideacloud LLC, a cutting-edge digital marketing and business strategy firm that helps entrepreneurs and businesses succeed in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. With a deep understanding of digital marketing, business strategy, and technology, Trevor has a proven track record of helping his clients achieve their goals and reach new levels of success. Whether working on brand development, digital marketing campaigns, or business strategy, Trevor is always looking for new and innovative ways to help his clients grow and thrive. Owner: Kitchen Tribes.

Michael Neiss

Board Member, Leadership Program Coordinator, Human Resources Subject Matter Expert

Michael brings a passion for leadership and organizational excellence that was formed during his years as a member of the management team at United Parcel Service, CMS Energy, and General Motors. Throughout his work with his own firm, Michael T Neiss and Associates, and his continued work as a senior consultant with the Tom Peters Company, Mike’s focus has been on helping organizations gain a competitive advantage through their people. Mike has been recognized as one of the original Master Consultants for the Leadership Challenge. Mike’s work has been focused on helping organizations develop their leaders and build the necessary systems and practices to insure a committed and focused workforce. He has had the opportunity to work closely with many of the best thought leaders. Michael is also one of the founding certified consultants of the Extreme Leadership Institute. Owner: Neiss and Company.

Scott Whiteford

Attorney, Board Member, Planning Team

Scott Whiteford, J.D., is the owner of Historic Hotel Nichols and co-owner of Kal-Haven Outpost. He has a strong background in small business finance, tax, legal, and real estate. He owns nearly 70 long-term rental properties in the area. He is an associate at Whiteford Wealth Management full-time and a board member on Market Van Buren, Drawing Children Into Reading, YDC, and The Mitten Children’s Museum. Owner: Whiteford Wealth Management.

For more information:

Debi Howe, Executive Director
South Haven Region Business Hub

Our Partners

Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance

Michigan Small Business Development Center

The Michigan Small Business Development Center offers expert assistance at no cost to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a business.

WMed Innovation Center

The WMed Innovation Center is the place to start and grow life science, technology, or engineering ventures.

SCORE Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan

Starting and growing a small business can be challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone.

You have such great energy; you make me feel confident in my decisions. Thank you for pointing out to us to watch our numbers. I will definitely take you up on getting together to chat over some tea.

—Gail Goodrich, Binfinity & Beyond, LLC

I really appreciate you, Debi. I’ve been figuring this out on my own for 15 years. You are a blessing to me.

—Karen Koch, Home Modification Occupational Therapy Alliance

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing so much information. I look forward to being able to be involved in this great networking experience. I really will call on your assistance for the help with this Business Plan.

—Joanna Partee, Silver Fox Assistant, LLC

We couldn’t have gotten this far without your advice and encouragement!! Thank you!!

—Sherry Seston, Vintage Inn & Winery

Thank you so much for the help. This wouldn’t have been possible without you. Am very grateful for your help and support and all the encouragement and positive vibes. God bless you!

—Isa Clark

I appreciate all that you do to support small businesses in the region. You are knocking it out of the park!

—Sonja A. Dean, Senior Program Officer, LISC

Thank you so much for your help and direction! Thank you so much for always being here for me to help, motivate, direct, and encourage me. Underground Hu$tle would really be nonexistent if it weren’t for you!  Thank you so much for being you and everything you continue to do.

—Jäquil Short

We look forward to seeing more programing and resources from the South Haven Region Business Hub.

—Josh Musinski, Water and Wheat, Vegan Chef Crafted Creations

WE GOT APPROVED FOR OUR NEW RESTAURANT!!! I can’t thank you enough for your guidance, mentorship, expertise, and motivation. We greatly appreciate your efforts towards the growth of Fruit Street Kitchen!

—Mo’Nique Crowley, Fruit Street Kitchen

Thank you for all your help as always I can’t sing your praises enough.

—Brent Wedding, Business Banking Relationship Manager, PNC Bank


South Haven Region Business Hub - A partnership between the City of South Haven, the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Michigan College. Powered by the South Haven Community Foundation.