By Dan Wyant
I’m excited to announce the opening of Edward Lowe Foundation’s Lansing office at 118 W. Ottawa Street!
There are a couple of reasons for expanding the foundation’s physical footprint beyond Big Rock Valley, our 2,000-acre headquarters property in Cassopolis. First, we wanted to be in closer proximity to our Michigan-based partners, and this building is just down the street from the state capitol and a few blocks away from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Small Business Development Center.
The second goal is to help jumpstart an entrepreneurship-led economic development (ELED) strategy that will make Michigan a national leader in entrepreneurial support.
For 14 years we’ve been a partner of Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB), an awards program that celebrates the contributions of small businesses to our state. MCSB founders wanted to grow this one-night celebration into a year-round support program. As a result, MCSB is now a formal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers a variety of services to promote, support and connect second-stage growth companies. Having a physical presence in Lansing will enable the Edward Lowe Foundation to play a more active role in rolling out MCSB’s services, which include CEO roundtables, leadership retreats, mentorship programs, a governor’s summit and more.
Why do we feel so strongly about this ELED initiative? Granted, Michigan has accomplished a lot in terms of economic growth in the past few years. Yet we believe there is more to be done to help second-stage entrepreneurs, which are the workhorses of job creation.
This is a unique time in our state’s history when entrepreneur support organizations are focused on cooperation rather than competition — something I don’t see happening in many other areas of the country. Establishing this Lansing office is a reaffirmation of our partnerships. It will also enable the foundation to be more efficient and effective. Although technology has given us some amazing communication tools, when it comes to building trust and credibility, nothing beats being in the same room with another person.
We spent a lot of time looking for the right space in Lansing, and our offices are located in a historic brick building that was constructed in 1890. Although relatively small, the 1,200-square-foot space has a lot of character including wide oak trim, steam heat, a spiral staircase, and a fireplace in the reception area. We signed the lease in December, and during the past few weeks, members of our staff have made numerous trips to Lansing to get the offices in prime condition. (Special thanks to Mike, Jon, Michele, Perry, Bernie, Julie, Debra, Jean and Kathy!) I’d also like to recognize Darlene Lowe, our co-founder and chairman, who put her aesthetical stamp on the interiors. The result is a space that mirrors our headquarters and reflects the foundation’s culture of quality. I was impressed that she was able to organize and conceptualize much of the design from her home in Florida.
I’ll be dividing my time between the new office and our Cassopolis headquarters. Colleen Killen-Roberts, our vice president of entrepreneurship, will be spending at least one day a week in Lansing, and other staff members will utilize the space as they find themselves working in the area.
Stop by and visit us!!