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Published in Economic Development

The Right Place launches ‘Diverse Business Directory’ of West Michigan companies

BY Tuesday, June 08, 2021 02:52pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Right Place Inc. has published a new digital database of businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and people in the LGBTQ community operating in a 13-county region of West Michigan. 

The Diverse Business Directory — which includes more than 1,200 alphabetical listings — is searchable by business name or sector and also includes the companies’ phone number, location and website. The Right Place launched the directory in alignment with its strategic plan, which includes a goal of increasing economic inclusion.

“Through our work with the Greater Grand Rapids business community, our team was able to identify a significant disconnect between minority-owned businesses in the region and companies seeking to diversify their supply chains,” Tim Mroz, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for The Right Place, said in a statement. “It is our expectation that this directory will provide a means of bridging that gap, making this relationship-building a simpler process for all.”

The Right Place gathered much of the directory information from applications that businesses submitted for emergency COVID-19 relief grant funding in 2020. The regional economic development agency exported elements of the applications for use in the directory. 

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation contributed funding toward the initiative.

The directory contains businesses located in Kent, Barry, Montcalm, Ionia, Ottawa, Allegan, Newaygo, Mecosta, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, Lake and Osceola counties. Unlisted businesses that qualify under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s definition for minority ownership can submit a request to be added.

In addition to the directory, The Right Place is leveraging insight from its Inclusive Learning Lab project with the Brookings Institution to advance business development and talent initiatives for minority-owned businesses.

“Prioritizing economic inclusion is critical to the long-term success of our region,” The Right Place President and CEO Randy Thelen said in a statement. “As the region’s economic development organization, it is The Right Place’s responsibility to be part of the solution in advancing (diversity, equity and inclusion) in our business community.”

“Our organization is focused on three core pillars: people, place and prosperity,” Thelen added. “In order for our community to be prosperous, we have to ensure all members of our community have the tools needed to reach their full potential, and that Greater Grand Rapids is a place where anyone, from any background, can thrive.”

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