The Big Picture Conversation

Every day, our entire team here at Northern Initiatives talks to many people. Our lending staff talks with customers, that often times might not qualify for traditional bank loans, about ways we can finance the launch or growth of their small business.  Our business coaches provide guidance, support, tools, and encouragement to help them meet their business goals. Our President, Dennis West, talks to our funders about how their investment will support jobs and wealth creation.


Being mission-driven sets us apart, positioning us to enhance offerings of traditional lending institutions.   So collectively, we talk about how our loan programs and business services empower our organization to more aggressively find funding for business owners and entrepreneurs whose ideas and dreams benefit our communities.


To put it simply:  Northern Initiatives helps small businesses. Small businesses help communities. The most successful way to show the results of our work is by telling the stories of our customers – startups like Roz’s Dinner and manufacturers like Jacquart Fabric Products – and the communities in which they operate.


Northern Initiatives Meets the Bair’s at the Intersection of Inspiration and Renovation


Roz's DinerYou may have never been to Rosebush, Michigan, but you have seen the exit on Highway 127.  It’s a tiny spot on the map, west of Clare and home to Chris and Megan Bair.  In 2014, Chris and Megan decided to take nearly 20 years of food service experience, a vacant, run-down former bank building, and a vision and open Roz’s Diner – located at the heart of Rosebush. The roots for the Diner run deep. In 2007, Chris lost his mother, Roz, to cancer. He wanted to honor her strong role in the Rosebush community and knew the perfect tribute: a family-style diner. It would be a community gathering place serving locally sourced food.  Not qualified for a traditional bank loan, Chris raised a lot of the funds himself through a crowd-sourcing campaign, but the remainder came as a loan from Northern Initiatives.


“Northern Initiatives took a chance on us.  I think they recognized that no matter what, we’d make it happen.” – Chris Bair, owner, Roz’s Diner


Helping a Long-standing Family Business Grow and A Community to Thrive


In 1998 – 40 years after his father founded Jacquart Fabric Products in Ironwood – CEO Bob Jacquart was faced with a rather nice problem.  His company had grown from a custom cut and sew shop with a single employee to a multi-brand business with dozens of skilled professionals.  They had an abundance of pet beds to deliver, but the company’s inventory and shipping processes needed strengthening.  Over the past 2 decades, Northern Initiatives has supplied Bob and his company with financial support and know-how that have allowed him to continue to grow his business and add 114 jobs to Ironwood and surrounding communities.


“I am a significantly different person and businessman because of my relationship with Northern Initiatives.  They have always been there for me, and have been a big part of my company’s success.” – Bob Jacquart, owner Jacquart Fabric Products


Why are these stories important?


Stormy KromerNorthern Initiatives helped Bob and his company add and retain over 100 jobs and growth to not only the Ironwood community but many others.  These jobs have allowed families to remain in the UP where jobs have been scarce – especially in the western UP.  And with his Stormy Kromer brand, Bob has put the UP on the global outdoor apparel map.  Northern Initiatives helped Chris and Megan turn a vacant downtown building into a welcoming, community-centered restaurant.  The husband and wife team also uses locally-sourced food – providing an income for farmers in mid-Michigan.


Northern Initiatives believes in building and strengthening communities and we do this by helping small businesses start and grow.  Donors help us work with entrepreneurs willing to take an old building and convert it into a restaurant, a salon, a coffee shop, a micro-brewery or a technology business. You certainly know of many places like this in your community.


These stories are why Northern Initiatives exists – to help small businesses start, grow, and add jobs to their communities. Today you are invited to give a financial gift so that together, as a team, we can help more businesses like Jacquart and Roz’s Diner.


Let us make this easy for you.  Please visit our website at and give today. 

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