GRAND RAPIDS, MICH — The Right Place, Inc., has launched its Diverse Business Directory for Greater Grand Rapids. The filterable directory, housed on The Right Place website, is an extensive database of minority, women, veteran, and LGBTQ+ owned businesses operating in the 13-county region.
The Diverse Business Directory was launched in alignment with The Right Place’s strategic plan. Economic Inclusion is one of the strategic pillars outlined in the plan, which states the organization’s intent to, “Increase our focus on inclusive growth initiatives to provide economic opportunities for all in the Greater Grand Rapids region.”
“Prioritizing economic inclusion is critical to the long-term success of our region,” said Randy Thelen, president & chief executive officer of The Right Place. “As the region’s economic development organization, it is The Right Place’s responsibility to be part of the solution in advancing DE&I in our business community. Our organization is focused on three core pillars: People, Place and Prosperity. 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.”
Many of the businesses listed in the new Diverse Business Directory were derived from the applications of businesses that previously applied for emergency COVID relief grant funding throughout 2020. Seeking to further leverage the time and effort businesses put into applying for these grants, The Right Place was able to export elements of the business’ applications and utilized them for the directory.
The Diverse Business Directory is one of several economic inclusion initiatives The Right Place has been working on. The organization is leveraging key insights from its Inclusive Learning Lab project with the Brookings Institution to further its work in minority business development and talent initiatives, beginning with the directory.
Senior vice president of strategic initiatives for The Right Place, Tim Mroz, led the development of the Diverse Business Directory. “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. 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 database currently contains business information for more than 1,200 diverse-owned businesses in the West Michigan region, which includes Kent, Barry, Montcalm, Ionia, Ottawa, Allegan, Newaygo, Mecosta, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, Lake and Osceola counties. Unlisted businesses that qualify under the SBA 8(a) definition as minority-owned are encouraged to submit a request to be added to the directory using the form linked on the database landing page.
Funding support for the development of the Diverse Business Directory was provided in part by a generous contribution by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.