Get Involved! Volunteer with SLD Read

SLD Read is in need of Language Links tutors to work with first through third graders in the upcoming school year.

Language Links is a pro-bono, school-based program which provides two hours per weekblur-book-browse-256546 of individual, specialized instruction to underserved children who are significantly below grade level in reading and spelling but do not receive Special Education services in either area. The Language Links program utilizes one-to-one multisensory instructions in reading, writing, and spelling.

There is no charge for tutoring or assessment to either the parents or the school. All tutoring is done during the school day.

All new tutors must complete the SLD Read interview process and attend our 32-hour Phonics Fundamentals for Tutors training. All new tutors also receive a one-to-one internship with an experienced SLD Read tutor as well as ongoing support and training. There is no fee for SLD Read trainings for SLD Read tutors.

Language Links programs are established in Big Rapids Public Schools, Crossroads Charter Academy, and St. Peter’s Lutheran School.

Since 1974, SLD Read has been helping children all over West Michigan who are at risk for reading failure.

For more information, contact Suzanne Finney at (231) 592-9605 ext. 2034, or email


Grand Slam Investigations supports Chamber Members

GSI_New_Logo.pngIn today’s society, businesses have to take precautionary steps to ensure that their business succeeds.  Not getting it right the first time can lead to several issues such as: employee embezzlement, workplace violence, and employee turnover.  

Because we want to help protect your business, Grand Slam Investigations and the Mecosta County Chamber of Commerce are offering chamber members special discounts on background checks, to help protect your business assets.

With over 20 different types of background checks available, we will create a custom package to provide you with the information needed to hire esteemed people.

Here are examples of the reports and pricing being offered under this special deal!

National Criminal Database Check:  

Regularly $24.95

Chamber Pricing $19.95

This background check reviews over 93 pages of criminal databases, from the county level to the federal level, and includes the National Sex Offender Registry.

Employment Credit Report:

Regularly $15.00

Chamber Pricing $10.00

Do you have employees that are handling financial transactions for your business? Reduce your risk of embezzlement by running a credit report to show whether your applicants are taking care of their finances or may attempt to steal yours.

Motor Vehicle Report:

Regularly $8.50 + DMV Connection Fee

Chamber Pricing $5.50 + DMV Connection Fee

Need to know if your applicant has speeding tickets or accidents while driving?  This report will show prior violations and ensure that you are hiring someone that drives safe, keeping your insurance rates down.
Contract GSI today at 231.359.1555 or and make sure you mention that you are a Big Rapids Chamber Member for your discounts!!  

Cruisin’ at the Castle

Submitted by The Canadian Lakes Cruisers


The Canadian Lakes Cruisers are happy to announce our  15th Annual Car Show to be held on  Sunday September 2, 2018  at the Castle from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The show welcomes classic cars, motorcycles, and trucks to enter and let the public oooh and ahhh over your vehicles. This is a wonderful family event.  On the shady grounds, visitors may wander about the vehicles, bid on items in a silent auction, take part in 50-50 raffles, and get something to eat. Children may get their faces painted and have balloons made for them by the clown. A disc jockey will be playing appropriate tunes from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Prizes will be awarded for top entries in each category and allow the public to select their favorite vehicle.  All proceeds from sales and auctions go to local charities. This year’s selected charities are WISE, God’s Helping Hand, and MI 22 which tries to prevent veteran suicides. Total donations over the past several years have exceeded $7,000. The Canadian Lakes Cruisers would like to thank the public for their generous support.

Canadian Lakes is located about  8 miles east of exit 131 on U.S 131 . Signs will be posted to show you the way to the Castle.  If coming from the east (Mt. Pleasant) drive on U.S. 20 until the 9 Mile road turnoff, several miles past Remus , and  follow the signs to the Castle. If using your GPS punch in: 9400 Pere Marquette Dr. Canadian Lakes, MI 49346.

You may register on the morning of the show from 9 a.m. to Noon. For more information, how to register, how to help, or directions call Marshall at 231-598-0838.

Chamber Child Care Task Force

Chamber Executive Director Jennifer Heinzman met with state officials this week to discuss solutions to the problem of lack of child care in the area. The group is heading up a task force to re-evaluate current regulatory barriers in the child care industry, that are contributing to the current shortage of quality care in the state. The goal of the task force is to create more child care options in the area,  in order to prevent the issue from being a barrier to employment for parents of small children.

L-R: Jennifer Heinzman, Executive Director, Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, Daire Rendon, State Representative, Michigan’s 3rd District, Bridgett Tubbs-Carlon, Appletree Learning Center, Michele Hoitenga, State Representative, Michigan ‘s 102nd District.

A message from our director: August

Jennifer Heinzman, Executive Director

Here at the Chamber, we are huge proponents of continuing education. One of the biggest benefits of continuing education is that it can improve one’s skills in a current job or help gain new skills in preparation for a career change. There are also huge benefits for employers who promote continuing education in the workplace. If you enjoy learning or are seeking a higher salary, continuing your education can be done at any stage of your career and life.

There are also major benefits for employers who promote continuing education in the workplace. Employees that seek to improve their skills can be an incredible asset for the company. Continuing education in the workplace can be a win-win for both employees and employers. Companies that are truly interested in the welfare of their employees and their professional development often offer full or partial financial support for training.

Benefits for employers:

Highly skilled workforce – There are many intrinsic benefits having a well-educated and skilled workforce. Skilled employees bring new ideas and creativity to the job.

Upgrading technology skills – Given the rapidly changing market and improvements in technology, companies need to stay abreast impending changes.

Employee retention – Companies that invest in the skills development of their employees generally have a better chance of retaining their staff as well improve employee morale and job satisfaction.

Impact on profits – Companies that promote skill development and continuing education will see a direct beneficial impact for the company. Happy employees are loyal and this will be evident in their productivity.

Identify future leaders – Employees who are interested in improving their skills and continuing with their education are often perfect candidates for future leadership roles and positions in the company.

Benefits for Employees

Higher salary – Continuing education improves your chances of promotion and a higher salary.

Improved marketability – Upgrading one’s skills will have direct effect on your marketability in the job market.

Learn new skills – Continuing with your education can help you to obtain the required skills and knowledge when facing any job or career transition.

Personal development – Learning does not have to relate to your career or job. Continuing education is a perfect way to follow a personal interest.

Improved image – Continuing education can also have an effect on how people around you perceive you. It can enhance your self-image and have a positive effect on your life.

There is no doubt that continuing education benefits employers and employees in many ways. A well-trained and well-educated workforce helps companies achieve long-term viability and profitability.

The Chamber offers monthly lunch and learn classes, topic-specific speakers, access to webinars on a variety of topics, the Leadership Mecosta Program, various panel discussions, TIPS Training, and other educational opportunities – if you are interested, please contact our office to learn more!

As always, if there is anything we can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask!

-Jennifer Heinzman, Executive Director


Be a part of BULLDOG BONANZA 2018

37888890_10155402508635458_7778531513628360704_n (1)BIG RAPIDS – Local entrepreneurs looking to introduce their business to students at Ferris State University now can register for a booth at this year’s Bulldog Bonanza, taking place on Wednesday, September 5th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at The University Center, located on the campus of Ferris State University.

Hosted by the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Spectrum Health’s MedNow, Bulldog Bonanza will showcase Mecosta County businesses to more than 2,500 potential customers on campus. Bulldog Bonanza is a great marketing tool, so businesses are encouraged show their Bulldog spirit and to bring goodies, freebies, and promotional items to share with this year’s incoming and returning students.

“This is a very exciting event, “ said Jennifer Heinzman, MCACC Executive Director, “It is fast-paced and allows businesses to show off their goods or services to a lot of people in a short time; organizations and businesses come back year after year because of the ROI!”

Vendors can be creative in decorating their booths with any Ferris State University related items, displays, lights, and even costumes. (No helium balloons or promotion of alcohol or tobacco products will be permitted, including free koozies.) This is a promotional event only, actual sale of products is prohibited.

Registration fees are $75 for members of the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, $100 for non-Chamber members. Corner booths are $150 for chamber members or $200 for non-chamber members. There is a $25 charge for electric hook-ups. Fees include one table and 2 chairs.

Space is reserved on a first come, first paid basis, and space is limited. Registration ends Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Register to be a vendor by clicking HERE!

For more information, contact the Chamber at (231) 796-7649.

Red Cross Names New West Michigan Executive Director: Tiffany Page to Lead Local Programs and Volunteers

Tiffany Page, Executive Director

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, July 27, 2018 – The American Red Cross of Michigan recently named Tiffany Page as its new Executive Director for West Michigan. “West Michigan means a great deal to the Red Cross and Tiffany’s local knowledge and passion for our mission adds a great deal of strength to all our community programs,” said Kimberly Burton, Regional Chief Executive Officer for the Michigan Region. “Local disasters happen each day. Our work helping families recover and move forward with their lives requires the type of dedication that Tiffany brings to all she does.”

Previously Tiffany worked with Catholic Charities West Michigan, overseeing community outreach and volunteer services. Her prior career experience includes leadership and management positions in the for-profit sector while serving as a board member for several local charitable organizations addressing human rights and social concerns.

Tiffany was drawn to the Red Cross by the mission of the organization and the passion of the organization’s volunteers. When Tiffany’s not working, she loves spending time with her family, dog and time at her family cabin.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan service area includes all of Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa counties.

Last year, Michigan Red Cross volunteers provided food, shelter, comfort and hope to 3,532 local families who faced emergency situations. They also provided first aid classes to 121,277 individuals including CPR, AED, Aquatics and Water Safety. Ninety-one cents of every dollar donated to the Red Cross goes toward humanitarian relief programs.

Nearly 314,000 volunteers serve the Red Cross, helping staff blood drives, volunteering at veteran’s hospitals, teaching people lifesaving skills such as First Aid and CPR, responding to home fires in the middle of the night and so much more. Here in the Michigan Region, more than 5,000 volunteers help communities across the state, and when called upon, also deploy to assist in national disaster relief operations.

About the American Red Cross: The Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

Instagram: @miredcross