The Grand Valley State University's Family Owned Business Institute's mission is to champion and serve family owned businesses through education and research.


The creation of the Family Owned Business Institute at Grand Valley State University is borne out of the collective belief that family businesses ( large and small ) are the cornerstone of a community's prosperity and a vital ingredient in its quality of life. Our national and regional history has demonstrated that it is in the best interest of communities to foster the creation, growth, and continuation of family owned businesses because they and their members:

  • Are leaders in job creation, innovation, and in providing stable employment opportunities with superior wages and benefits for their employees.

  • Strategically think and act over the long term (generational) with a greater willingness to sacrifice short-term profitability, oftentimes resulting in greater community investment and stability.

  • Act in a responsible, ethical manner with customers, employees, and the community at large in part due to the association of family values and reputation with the business unit.

  • Are environmentally and socially responsible stewards of the resources they control and influence.

  • Are specialists in building, maintaining, and managing a core culture of values most often associated with hard work, sacrifice, service, integrity, quality, loyalty, trust, respect, and commitment.

  • Tend to be community leaders in philanthropic activities and are generally active volunteers and financial supporters of their communities.


Despite their tremendous contributions, family businesses face a unique set of challenges that can limit their impact and even threaten their very survival. By providing support through research, curriculum, and knowledge management, the Family Owned Business Institute serves to develop, retain, and expand the influence of family businesses within our communities.

  • Educate both undergraduate and graduate business students to be well-trained and creative thinkers about the challenges of operating or working within a family owned business.

  • Be the national leader in the development and dissemination of curriculum materials and methods for teaching the principles of family owned business.

  • Integrate issues and principles of family owned business into the general business school curriculum.

  • Motivate students to pursue a course of study which includes an examination of the principles of family owned business.

  • Support rigorous, relevant academic research concerning the impact of family owned businesses on local and national economies; their unique influence on business ethics and community building; and their sensitivity to public policies and regulations.

  • Offer a clearinghouse of information and resources to those in the community interested in the phenomenon and "best practices" of family owned business.

  • Encourage the involvement of family owned businesses in the university, and disseminate knowledge from research and classroom activities out to the community.

  • Collaborate with other organizations interested in family owned business to achieve the Institute's mission and goals.



In September 1999, the Seidman College of Business and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (working with its Family-Owned Business Council) raised $301,000 from a salute to Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos. This became the seed money for the Family Owned Business Institute, housed at the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University.



Page last modified May 17, 2014