Both Suzanne Velarde of the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerceand Dave Stradal of Muskegon Community Collegeare quick to say the evidence is anecdotal, but they and others in the lakeshore community say they have been busy fielding an increased number of inquiries about how to start a business in the region.
Some of the interest, they say, has come about since announcing the launch of the e-merge Entrepreneur Network in February, a network of organizations and business leaders ready to help entrepreneurs connect with the resources they need to be successful. The web site,www.e-mergewestmichigan.org will launch in mid-April and will feature an entrepreneur/mentor matchmaking option.
"Many people thinking about starting a business are not aware of everything that's out there for them," Velarde says. "Since we announced it, the SCORE office inside the Chamber has seen a bump up in those calls, and they have seen more people in the first quarter than at the same time a year ago."
MCC has also been busy, spending the past several months developing and piloting a core group of classes on entrepreneurism as well as a proposed new associate's degree, the Entrepreneur Associate of Applied Science, that will be offered in all 41 of its education departments.