Thank you, Mecosta County!

expo-flyer-2018.jpgOver 3,000 people attended this year’s Community and Family Expo last weekend! What a successful event! The Chamber always has such a great time organizing this event for the community. Thank you to everyone that came out to this year’s event!
Thank you to all of our entertainment groups that participated this year, including the FSU Living Statues, Casey Bouman and Walker Weirts and their trash can percussion ensemble, Camryn Matson and Caleb Price, The Big Rapids Middle School Choir, and all of our spirited mascots. Congratulations to Brutus the Bulldog from FSU, this year’s Mascot Dance-off winner.
Also, thank you so much to our Expo planning committee, particularly Jessica Wimmer, of Mecosta-Osceola Great Start, for organizing all of the activities in the hallway; Josh Pyles, of the City of Big Rapids, for coordinating the Touch-A-Truck event; and Deb Tyson, of BRPS, our committee chair, whose tireless efforts and enthusiasm helped to create and amazing event.
Finally, a huge thank you to The 2018 Community and Family Expo sponsors! We couldn’t do it without your continued support of this event and the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce!expo sponsors.png

Is Entrepreneurship for You?

Jennifer Heinzman, Executive Director, MCACC

Sustainable economic growth requires entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs create new jobs, contribute to economic expansion, and become stakeholders in supporting a healthy business environment. As communities across the world struggle to meet employment demands, the importance of fostering a next generation of entrepreneurs – both job creators and entrepreneurial employees – is particularly significant.

Consider whether you have the following characteristics and skills commonly associated with successful entrepreneurs:

  • Comfortable with taking risks: Being your own boss also means you’re the one making tough decisions. Entrepreneurship involves uncertainty. Do you avoid uncertainty in life at all costs? If yes, then entrepreneurship may not be the best fit for you. Do you enjoy the thrill of taking calculated risks? Then read on.
  • Independent: Entrepreneurs have to make a lot of decisions on their own. If you find you can trust your instincts — and you’re not afraid of rejection every now and then — you could be on your way to being an entrepreneur.
  • Ambitious – You will need to be a self-starter that is fully committed and willing to work tirelessly to get your project off the ground.
  • Persuasive: You may have the greatest idea in the world, but if you cannot persuade customers, employees and potential lenders or partners, you may find entrepreneurship to be challenging. If you enjoy public speaking, engage new people with ease and find you make compelling arguments grounded in facts, it’s likely you’re poised to make your idea succeed.
  • Able to negotiate: As a small business owner, you will need to negotiate everything from leases to contract terms to rates. Polished negotiation skills will help you save money and keep your business running smoothly.
  • Creative: Are you able to think of new ideas? Can you imagine new ways to solve problems? Entrepreneurs must be able to think creatively. If you have insights on how to take advantage of new opportunities, entrepreneurship may be a good fit. 
  • Supported by others: Before you start a business, it’s important to have a strong support system in place. You’ll be forced to make many important decisions, especially in the first months of opening your business. If you do not have a support network of people to help you, consider finding a business mentor. A business mentor is someone who is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance.

Here at the Chamber of Commerce, we are constantly looking for ways to help businesses succeed, grow or even start. Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It can offer numerous advantages such as being your own boss, setting your own schedule and making a living doing something you enjoy. But, becoming a successful entrepreneur requires thorough planning, creativity and hard work.

If you feel that entrepreneurship is for you and you need help getting your small business started, call the Chamber and we will provide you with the necessary resources and get you connected with all the right people to bring your ideas to fruition.  

Leadership Mecosta


This month, the 2018 Leadership Mecosta Class spent the day with local law enforcement and public safety organizations for Public Safety and Justice Day. The day started with a tour of the Mecosta County Jail where class members were shown how inmates are processed and housed, as well as the inner workings of the facility. Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy and Mecosta County Sherriff Todd Purcell, both Leadership Alumni themselves, then addressed the class regarding their positions and leadership styles. Before leaving the Mecosta County Courthouse, the class was able to tour one of the courtrooms with Judge Hill-Kennedy.

Then tour then took the class to the Public Safety Building at Ferris State University, where the class met with Director Bruce Borkovich, who discussed emergency planning at the university and led a tour of the facility. The class was then treated to lunch by VP of Administration and Finance, Jerry Scoby, who led a discussion on leadership at the university.

Finally, the day ended at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, where Steve Schroeder, Deputy Director, shared many of the vehicles and equipment the organization uses when battling fires and other emergencies. The class was event able to see a demonstration of the ‘Jaws of Life.’

Thank you again to all of our speakers and sponsors for your continued support of the Leadership Mecosta program.

This year’s class is currently in the process of seeking funds to create the Leadership Mecosta Endowed Scholarship. All monetary and in-kind donations will be accepted, but donors choosing to give support at any of the following levels will be honored on a future donor recognition piece, to be located at the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce: Patron–$100 to $499, Pioneer–$500 to $999, Visionary–$1000 to $1999, Leader–$2000 and over. In-kind donations will be contributed to the group’s June 8th fundraiser at the Paris Stone Hatchery. Tickets will be available soon.

If you would like more information, please contact Bob Murray, committee chair at (231) 349-5339 Megan Eppley, committee secretary at (231) 796-7649, Tessa McNally, committee treasurer at (231)796-2420, or speak with any member of the Leadership Mecosta 2017/2018 class.


Big Rapids Lions Club Hosts Big Rapids Housing Commission Executive Director

Big Rapids Lions Club Host Big Rapids Housing Commission Executive Director

The Big Rapids Lions Club welcomed Big Rapids Housing Commission Executive Director Mark Sochocki to a recent Club meeting.  Mr. Sochocki shared the 2017 Housing Commission Annual Report with the Club members.  He pointed out the major projects that the Commission has been involved with during his 22 year tenure with Commission.  Although the Commission was initially established to provide safe, affordable housing for low income families, they have reached beyond that goal to identify other housing services that the community needed.  With multiple housing units in place to help meet the need, the Commission is now looking to the need for single family homes and how they might help meet that need.  The Club members took the opportunity to thank Mr. Sochocki and the Commission for their role in bringing the community the marvelous mural located on the side of the Fairman Building in downtown Big Rapids.

Picture – Tom Samuels, Lions Club President and Mark Sochocki, Executive DirectorIMG_2126 (2).JPG

Governor Rick Snyder Visits Mecosta County

The Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce was honored to be apart of the Marshall Plan for Talent workshop on April 5, 2018 at the University Center on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids. It was a great opportunity to connect with other regional partners in order to address the growing talent gap in Michigan and share ideas in an effort to develop practical solutions.

In addition to addressing the attendees of the workshop, Governor Snyder met with the FSU Men’s Basketball Team to congratulate them on their Division II National Championship, and also toured the Swan Technical Arts Building.

According to Michigan’s Department of Talent and Economic Development’s website, “The Marshall Plan for Talent is a revolutionary partnership between educators, employers and other stakeholders to transform Michigan’s talent pipeline and redesign the ways we invest, develop and attract talent in our state.” For more on The Marshall Plan, visit them online HERE.


Help Support Leadership Mecosta

img_1245.jpegThe 2017/2018 Leadership Mecosta Class is pleased to announce this year’s community service project, The Leadership Mecosta Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to a first-time, full-time undergraduate student of Ferris State University, residing in the Mecosta County area (Mecosta, Osceola, Newaygo, Montcalm, and Lake counties) with an unmet financial need.

Generous community support of this project is very much needed and appreciated. The goal of the class project is to create a legacy for Leadership Mecosta that will further exemplify the program’s stellar reputation for leadership development in the area.

This class is partnering with FSU and the Ferris Foundation, creating a unique opportunity for the community to invest in the future leaders of the Mecosta County area. As part of FSU’s Now and Always campaign, every dollar raised for this scholarship will be matched by the Ferris Foundation. This means that this year’s class has the potential to have a monumental impact on the next generation of leaders in the area, with a great probability of long term sustainability.

“Our class is pleased to be able to partner with Ferris State University for our capstone project,” said Bob Murray, project committee chair. “This project not only helps students in or community it strengthens the bond between the Mecosta Area Chamber of Commerce and Ferris State University!”

Businesses and other members of the community can make this project a success by contributing a monetary or in-kind donation. The class will also be hosting a fundraising dinner on June 8, 2018 at the Stone Hatchery in Paris. Donations to the dinner’s silent auction are also greatly appreciated. More information regarding the dinner event will be available in the coming weeks.

“I’d like to strongly encourage you to attend this upcoming event and to seriously consider making a donation to this great effort.” stated Leadership facilitator, Scott Barger. “This year’s Leadership Mecosta class is an exceptional class with a vision to provide scholarships for young leaders for many years to come.  Please come alongside them and make a difference today.”

All monetary and in-kind donations will be accepted, but donors choosing to give at any of the following levels will be honored on a future donor recognition piece, to be located at the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce: Patron–$100 to $499, Pioneer–$500 to $999, Visionary–$1000 to $1999, Leader–$2000 and over.

If you would like more information, please contact Bob Murray, committee chair at (231) 349-5339 Megan Eppley, committee secretary at (231) 796-7649, Tessa McNally, committee treasurer at (231)796-2420, or speak with any member of the Leadership Mecosta 2017/2018 class.

Moolenaar Visits Simonds International

IMG_2244 (2)
Pictured (L-R): Dave Campbell of Simonds International; Jennifer Heinzman, MCACC; Congressman John Moolenaar; Jim Sandy, MCDC; Tom Hogenson, City of Big Rapids.
Congressman John Moolenaar of the U.S. House of Representatives visited with Dave Campbell of Simonds International, Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Heinzman, Big Rapids Mayor Tom Hogenson, and President of the Mecosta County Development Corporation Jim Sandy to discuss recent federal legislation regarding tariffs on steel imports. This new legislation will have a direct impact locally on businesses, like Simonds, that rely heavily on imported steel to maintain production costs. Following a tour of Simonds International’s facilities, Moolenaar heard from several members of Simonds staff and members of the community as they voiced their concerns regarding current governmental issues. Moolenaar pledged to help local manufacturers voice their concerns to the current federal administration and will continue to support the prosperity of manufacturing in Mecosta County.
“We really appreciate that Congressman Moolenaar took the time to meet with us today,” said Heinzman. “Our ultimate goal is to keep as many local manufacturing jobs as possible in Mecosta County. Having the support of our state and federal representatives is imperative to the continued prosperity of the region. It is our hope that Congressman Moolenaar will continue to be a supportive voice for us in Washington.”

Congressman John Moolenaar represents the residents of Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District. He is currently a member of the House Appropriations Committee.