Data That We Track, October 2018



Communities We Serve


Overall Michigan saw its jobless rate lower, easing closer to the national rate. In spite of that, seasonality, particularly in the more rural parts of the State is a factor. Forty-six of the 73 counties in this report had their jobless rates go up (63%). Still, most employers continue to struggle to find people, particularly with respect to skill matching.


View the Latest Data Sheet (Adobe PDF File).


How Northern Initiatives Fared


Expanding South
Last month we opened three offices, in Muskegon, Battle Creek, and Grand Rapids. We held dedications in the former two and will dedicate the Grand Rapids office in the first quarter of 2019.


The Battle Creek ribbon cutting had a very special moment. The Mayor, Mark Behnke gave us a $1,000 check for the Battle Creek Loan Fund. Later that night at a reception being held at the Community Foundation, local businessman John A. Banks also gave us a $1,000 check in support of small business development in Battle Creek. It is the leadership of this kind that will propel Battle Creek forward as new small businesses start to emerge.


Growing Internally
We have two new staff people in Battle Creek, Kellie Hoffman who is our lender, and Israel Flores is our Business Development Specialist. It is a fascinating time to be doing our work in Battle Creek. I think there is great opportunity to further local ownership and build a dynamic local market. If you want to experience Burmese Food, Battle Creek has it at Shwe Mandalay. If you want to experience the winner of a Detroit taco competition, Battle Creek has it, at Torti Taco. If you want to experience great food and pairings, Battle Creek has it, at Kitchen Proper. There is also a renewed investment energy coming into a downtown too often characterized by vacancies.


We closed a loan with Cereal City Tattoo which will add their business and renovate space for apartments and other businesses. Last week the Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved a $10M loan in support of the Heritage Tower Project which is a great project of apartments and commercial spaces that will open in 2019. Caitlynn and Cody Newman are bringing youthful energy into renovation projects on the other end of the downtown with the Ratti Building.


It is great to be a part of building these puzzle pieces in the downtown and neighborhoods of Battle Creek. It is also gratifying and humbling when local leaders are putting their money into this effort. I am sure I will be sharing more updates soon.


Monthly Musings from President, Dennis West


This year marks our 25th Anniversary helping small businesses start and grow. Northern Initiatives has provided over 1100 loans, totaling $64 million and creating or retaining nearly 5,000 jobs. Fundamental to these milestones is the intentional act of “relationship-building.” In our office we like to call it the “Customer for Life” culture. Thinking about the trajectory from loan origination, startup, to growth and profit, our staff helps the business owner build systems required to grow and succeed.


“I don’t think there’s one aspect of our business Northern Initiatives hasn’t helped us with.”
– Barrett Kaib, Busy Boys Home Solutions Co-Owner.


Busy Boys Home Solutions of Marquette is an example. After their loan closed, Co-owners Aaron Beutenmiller and Barrett Kaib were in the NI office almost weekly, meeting with business coaches to develop a marketing plan and comb through financials of the budding year-round outdoor maintenance business. These types of in-person touch points are key to helping the business owner(s) succeed.


Building that partnership around money and know how is our way of helping people convert their dream to reality. This, among other things, is what makes us so different from other lending institutions.


Three years ago a donor to NI was as rare as your furnace turning on in July (wait a minute, I forgot where we live) – still uncommon. Now we have over 60 donors who believe in us and give annually, and I hope you will join this group. A contribution from you will support this important relationship-building and result in new small businesses, thriving communities, and more jobs.


I invite you to consider a financial gift to NI and help us build more relationships and small businesses for many years to come!



Support Northern Initiatives


Northern Initiatives wishes to thank our funders, investors and donors for their continued support. Northern Initiatives provides money and know how to start-ups and growing businesses. We invite you to join us to help more businesses start and grow.



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