Fund to help West Michigan based business owners of color closes in on $10 million goal
It was roughly a year ago the local economic development organization The Right Place and a handful of community partners announced the creation of the New Community Transformation Fund, a venture, aimed at boosting businesses owned by a people of color in West Michigan, with the hope of producing long term economic and social change in the area.
And on Tuesday Fund officials announced they had already raised $8.5 million in the first year, far more than the $5 million they had hoped to raise, thanks in part to a large gift by Bank of America, and because of the outpouring of support of the idea from numerous partners such as Spectrum Health Ventures, Mercantile Bank and DTE Energy.
Leading the New Community Transformation Fund is Skot Welch who will oversee daily operations and investor management. He says his dream is for young people of color to look up and see business owners who look like them and creating the belief that they too can grow up and run their own business.
“Just to see a further mosaic landscape within West Michigan, and to make sure that we are no longer a fly-over city for entrepreneurs of color,” Welch said. “We want to be a place where people say, ‘you’ve got to go to West Michigan, because that is where some really important work is occurring.”
Officials say the next goal is reaching $10 million in funding, which will allow the fund to begin investing, hoping in 2021 to make its first three investments in West Michigan-based, people of color-owned businesses.