Grand Valley Innovation Hub awarded Economic Development Administration grant

Michael Walsh Jr., chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Commerce, speaks at a ceremony awarding a grant to the Muskegon Innovation Hub.
Michael Walsh Jr., chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Commerce, speaks at a ceremony awarding a grant to the Muskegon Innovation Hub.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

Grand Valley State University’s Muskegon Innovation Hub celebrated the awarding of a grant by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) at a September 11 event at the Hub.

On hand to present the award on behalf of the Department of Commerce was Michael Walsh Jr., who is the department’s chief of staff.

The grant will supply nearly $90,000 to fund a study that will analyze entrepreneurial support needs in Muskegon and West Michigan, including business start-ups, business acceleration and potential sectors for new growth. 

Kevin Ricco, director of the Hub, said the study will produce information that will help the economic development community respond to the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kevin Ricco waits to speak at the award ceremony.
Kevin Ricco, director of the Muskegon Innovation Hub, waits to speak about the grant award.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

“COVID-19 has dramatically changed the landscape for entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Ricco said. “The needs of these groups pre-COVID were dramatically different than they are in this ‘new normal’ business environment. The goal with this entrepreneurial support market analysis project is to interview entrepreneurial support organizations and, more importantly, entrepreneurs and small businesses in an effort to better understand their needs so that support organizations can provide the critical services they need to not only sustain their business but to help them grow and thrive in this new economy.”

Walsh, representing the Commerce Department, said the EDA is helping provide funds to communities across Michigan and the nation in an attempt to rebuild the country’s economy.

“Economic development is all about planning,” Walsh said. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. EDA-supported economic districts are leading the charge in helping communities plan and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Ricco said the Hub has seen a recent uptick in entrepreneurship, in part due to the economic downturn from the pandemic. The Hub’s job he said, is to work with entrepreneurs help them turn an idea into a viable and sustainable business.

“This work not only serves the entrepreneurs but improves the economy of the entire region,” Ricco said. “This study will benefit startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs along the entire West Michigan Lakeshore.”

The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission was a co-applicant on the EDA grant.

Ricco, Walsh and Erin Kuhn, director of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission
Ricco, Walsh and Erin Kuhn, director of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission at the Sept. 11, 2020 event.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills