Over nearly two decades, Muskegon has seen an upward progression in its economic climate. More recently, in the last three or four years, Grand Valley State University's Muskegon Innovation Hub has intentionally reached out to the community, offering themselves up as a resource to push forth the tools necessary for self-starting success. Since then, the hub has seen their clients establish and sustain their own businesses, investing their ideas back into the Lakeshore. Such investment has born measurable change within the community, expressed through the frequency of shops and restaurants found revitalizing the area.
As a result, the Hub has declared 2019 as the first year that will celebrate a Lakeshore Innovator of the Year, a ceremony recognizing and awarding the creativity and innovation present within their community. Nominations will be open to single-person entrepreneurs, small or large companies, and non-profits.
“This first year, we’re casting a wide net,” says Muskegon Innovation Hub Director Kevin Ricco. “It’s speaking to anything innovative that hasn’t been done or hasn’t been brought up before, that has that creative and innovative drive attached to it.”
Ricco described downtown as once being “a giant sandbox,” but now, “You go downtown today, there are cranes constructing large six-story buildings, and older buildings being renovated to house new businesses.”
However, the type of businesses Muskegon’s landscape is able to foster continues to reshape, as well.
“Longer Days, a company that graduated here from the Hub a couple of years ago, is a company that focuses on virtual offices,” says Ricco. “They have a central location in downtown Muskegon, but their clients are all over the globe, quite literally.”
Overall, Ricco says during the last couple of years, there has been approximately $5 billion worth of projects either planned or in action for the greater Muskegon area.
The Hub will be taking nominations up until January 31 (nominations can be submitted here
), then in February, their advisory committee will narrow down the nominations to five finalists, with one selected winner. On March 14th, the ceremony event will be hosted at the Hub facility, where all five finalists and the winner will be recognized.
“The number of people who have graduated from our program, continue to contribute to the Muskegon community, and now are renting all this space — we’re starting to see some of the fruits of that effort,” says Ricco.
Images courtesy of Muskegon Innovation Hub.