Muskegon River Trash Bash set for Sept. 15, 2018

Volunteers Needed

Muskegon River Trash Bash 2017

(AUG 16 – Big Rapids, MI) – Local communities are joining together on Sept. 15, 2018 to tackle trash and debris in the Muskegon River for the second annual Muskegon River Trash Bash.  Volunteers are needed in multiple communities including: Evart, Big Rapids, and Newaygo.  In addition, the Village of Mecosta is cleaning up a portion of the Little Muskegon River, a tributary or the Muskegon River.

Specific information about each location and to register to volunteer, go to each community’s page at  or follow on Facebook @MRtrashbash.  Volunteers are eligible to win prizes and receive giveaways. Bring your own boat, kayak, or canoe, or walk along the river’s edge. B103.9 will be broadcasting from Hemlock Park.

The Muskegon River Trash Bash first started in 2017 as the Class of 2017 Leadership Mecosta project through the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce.  Ice Mountain, B103.9 Big Rapids, Republic Services, and American Rivers are sponsors of the 2018 Trash Bash. Other contributors include: the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, Lowes, the City of Evart, JJ’s River Run, Newaygo Brewing Co., Village of Mecosta, and the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce.    

American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.  American Rivers’ National River Cleanup is a series of nationwide community-based river and stream cleanups.  Learn more about National River Cleanup at,, and


Deadline for Leadership Mecosta Applications Extended

2018 Class of Leadership Mecosta at Paris Park

BIG RAPIDS, MI – There is still time to be a part of Leadership Mecosta

Leadership Mecosta has extended its deadline for new members interested in being a part of the 2018-19 class. Mecosta County residents interested in developing their leadership skills and community connections still have the opportunity to apply for this year’s class.

Leadership Mecosta is a dynamic 9-month program for community members that wish to connect with other leaders in the Mecosta County community. Members will have the chance to learn leadership skills and principles, grow in serving the community, and lead into the future of Mecosta County.

This year’s class will begin with the Leadership Development Retreat, and overnight retreat, which takes place September 20-21 at CranHill Ranch. Classes are then held monthly, beginning in October and continue through May.

Leadership Mecosta will host a Kickoff Mixer at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Big Rapids. Current class members as well as Leadership Alumni are encouraged to attend.

If you are interested in learning more about Leadership Mecosta, or if you would like to be part of the Class of 2018/2019, contact the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce (127 S. Michigan

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