Helping small businesses grow.

Success Stories

Dough Chicks

Kara’s and Denise’s adventures began with baking breads and confections for teachers, friends, and neighbors. Soon, the DoughChicks’ label attached itself to the mom-daughter duo.

Denise and Kara have been baking together since Kara was a child. They are both passionate about including healthy ingredients in snack and breakfast foods. Making those snacks not just healthy, but also delicious is a bonus!

Kara is on the autism spectrum. Her neurodiversity brings the strength of perseverance and a strong work ethic. After graduating from high school, Kara attended culinary arts school, where she cultivated her passion for food. Denise embraces the challenges of life’s curve balls and loves to learn new things. Kara’s tenacity and Denise’s adaptability make them a dream duo in the kitchen.

The DoughChicks are avid runners and cyclists. They found that they especially needed extra energy during cycling adventures. This led to the development of KaraComet, a soy-free, gluten-free energy bar. Always on the go, Kara and Denise wanted to develop a healthy breakfast that was also quick and easy. Their gluten-free granola contains extra protein and fiber to combat low blood sugar and their (gluten-free) pancake mix, breakfast cookies, and cashew/seed snack are a sweet and salty perfection.

The DoughChicks are passionate about fitness and nutrition and love to provide products that are gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free.

-Source: Can-Do Kitchen

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