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Support Growing for Ferris' Latin@ Outreach Initiatives Based in Grand Rapids

Ferris State UniversityGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Business and government resources are being provided to support the opportunities offered to members of the Latinx community, through Ferris State University’s Latino Business and Economic Development Center, based in Grand Rapids.

A total of $40,000 has recently been granted to two programs, according to program director Carlos Sanchez.

“The city of Grand Rapids has awarded $20,000 to the Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative from the city’s general fund and that is joined by a $10,000 grant from the west region of Chemical Bank,” Sanchez said. “We have also been honored to receive a $10,000 grant from Spectrum Health Community Relations to benefit the Latino Talent Initiative, which is another of the programs overseen by the center.”

Sanchez said this funding is critical to enhance learning opportunities that are offered to Latinx professionals, with the goal of contributing to the overall economic development of Latino communities in West Michigan. The 11-week entrepreneurship training program, offered with instruction in Spanish, began on Tuesday, March 7, and was developed in collaboration with Spring GR, a nonprofit, Grand Rapids-based corporation.

“Our talent and entrepreneurship participants will be exposed to greater professional development and, for those already in business, these encounters will serve as networking opportunities,” Sanchez said. “It will bring greater value to what the students do and I am glad these organizations are partnering in the support of the Latino business community.”

Sanchez is acting as a facilitator for the entrepreneurship program, which is being offered to the participants at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. The program is focused on framing the business idea using elements of User Centered Design.

“Start Garden and Leadership GR are among the other organizations we are involved with in Grand Rapids as we strive to provide programs of value to and offer support to the business communities within the city,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said some of the Chemical Bank funding will be directed to benefit the work of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center.

Spectrum Health has made its donation to sponsor two pitch competitions, where participants will have five-minute opportunities to present their business ideas. One of the five competitors, judged by those attending the competition as having the best concept, would receive funding to help advance their proposal.

“The efforts Ferris is making in Grand Rapids, through the center’s programs, will increase and enhance our involvement in the community,” Sanchez said. “We are making plans that will continue and expand this association with Latinx professionals and entrepreneurs, both in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Carlos Sanchez (seated, left) is director of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center, a community outreach program of Ferris State University, based in Grand Rapids. He is pictured with the second graduating cohort of the Latino Talent Initiative.