Lakeshore Advantage launches 'certify your business' video series

Lakeshore Advantage has launched a new resource to help woman-, veteran-, minority-, and LGBT-owned businesses become certified.

The Zeeland-based economic development agency’s Certify Your Business video series offers education on the benefits of certification for diverse businesses. The series features the lead certification support provider for woman-, veteran-, minority-, and LGBT-owned businesses, and provides an overview of the process, cost, and timeline.
“Each certification process, depending on your certification category, is a bit different,” says Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “No need for businesses to worry because there are expert support organizations that are ready to help featured in the video series.”

In the series

The series includes the Why Certify Your Business video, featuring Jim Bos, vice president of global procurement at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, and Joe Matthews, vice president of purchasing and diversity officer at Gentex. Bos and Matthews will discuss their companies’ successes in working with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and why a diverse business owner should consider going through the certification process from the corporate buyer’s perspective. 

Also included is a four-part interview series highlighting:

How to Certify Your Woman-Owned Business, with Michelle Richards, executive director of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.

How to Certify Your LGBTQ-Owned Business, with Kevin Heard, president of the Board of Directors of the Detroit LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

How to Certify Your Minority-Owned Business, with Andrew Sims, vice president of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.

How to Certify Your Veteran-Owned Business, with Roderick Rickman, president of the Veteran-Owned Business Roundtable.

The Certify Your Business series is available at

Buying process webinar

An upcoming webinar on The Corporate Buying Process, 1 p.m. Feb.  25, aims to raise awareness of the benefits of intentional purchasing programs for area companies, with a panel of business leaders with supplier diversity programs in place. Register at
Joe Matthews is the Vice President of Purchasing and Diversity Officer for Zeeland-based Gentex Corp.

Critical support of this project came from members of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, who have established supplier diversity programs. Lakeshore Advantage worked with local leaders to create the Certify Your Business series to further support Michigan Small Business Restart Grant applicants and other diverse businesses by sharing why a business might consider certification, and how they can go about the process. 
“Realize that starting a supplier diversity program is a journey,” says Matthews. “Know what you spend and with whom you spend. You might be surprised to see opportunities that already exist to expand your supplier pool. The potential for creating impactful business relationships is evenly distributed across the supplier community. Opportunity is not. Supplier diversity provides opportunity across the entire supply base.” 

Connect to mentors, support network
The certification process connects diverse businesses to mentors and a support network to help them succeed. It also increases the number and variety of vetted businesses for corporate buyers to access when making purchasing decisions. 
“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunities in the Holland/Zeeland area for those who take advantage of MBE certification,” says Sims. “You don’t have to travel far to chase work.”
The Certify Your Business series is possible through a Consumers Energy Foundation grant. 
“Small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy and have been significantly impacted during this unprecedented time,” says Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “Consumers Energy is committed to helping Michigan’s small business community succeed — now, more than ever. We are happy to work with local economic development organizations that know their communities’ needs best and are making sure our contributions are having the biggest impact.”

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.