Dear Friends and MGSSBF Members,
Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum entered into a strategic partnership with West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum last year to share resources and allow us to spend more time serving our members and the community.
Our respective board of directors recently made the decision to formally merge operations, creating the largest regional organization for sustainable business practitioners in the Midwest. The combined organization will be headquartered in Grand Rapids and serve 220 member organizations in a 10-county area, with a unified mission of promoting business practices that demonstrate environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and social responsibility.
This is an important step for MGSSBF. After seven years we are a healthy organization and proud of our work, but recently recognized that we were too reliant on our volunteer board for program management and saw no viable path to hire additional staff support. By pooling our resources with WMSBF we are able to grow mutual capacity and deliver a greater benefit to our members.
West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will continue to do business as Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum in Southwest Michigan for the foreseeable future. The respective board of directors have combined, with current board secretary Lynette Wolf, of Lake Michigan College, and Wightman & Associates’ Anna Keehn assuming positions on the WMSBF board. Wolf will chair a new leadership committee that will guide the direction of the organization.
Members of both organizations will immediately begin receiving full reciprocal benefits, and MGSSBF members operating in the Greater Grand Rapids area can request a listing on the WMSBF web page. You will also be invited to attend the WMSBF Annual Meeting in June and vote on (or run for) the Board of Directors. Later this year you will notice a new website that will provide increased cohesion between the two brands.
MGSSBF members will begin receiving the weekly WMSBF newsletter in their email boxes this week, which will contain information on both organizations, as well as invites to monthly WMSBF events occurring in the Greater Grand Rapids area. You will continue to receive a monthly MGSSBF email exclusive to Michigan’s Great Southwest.
We have big plans for 2017 with educational events planned for the next three months:
- Green Event Workshop and Member Networking: Friday, February 28, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
- Annual Legislative Breakfast: Friday, April 21, 7:30 am to 9 am
- Sustainable Food Systems Luncheon: Wednesday, June 7, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
We are also happy to announce a new recycling user group based on a highly successful program in the Grand Rapids area that will now be available to members for a small fee.
Finally, we should note that we considered very carefully what it means to be a satellite organization. We believe the only meaningful change you will notice is that the mailing address has changed. We have been a virtual organization from the beginning, and that has not changed. This will result in more time and resources being spent on local programming, not less. Further, we have taken steps to ensure that your membership dues and other funds raised locally are directed exclusively to local projects.
Thank you for your continued support,
Board of Directors
Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum
Becky Kliss, Board President, Green Connection, Inc.
Chris Brayak, Board Vice President, Wightman & Associates
Lynette Wolf, Board Secretary, Lake Michigan College
Dave Lefor, Board Treasurer, Indiana Michigan Power
Shawn Armstrong, Whirlpool Corporation
Marcy Hamilton, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission
Jim Grandholm, Green Earth Electronics Recycling
Kendall Troyer, Lakeland Healthcare
J.B. Hoyt, JBH Strategies