Lakeshore Advantage Breaks Ground on Region's Premier Innovation Hub
HOLLAND, Mich. – Lakeshore Advantage, the leading economic development organization for Ottawa and Allegan counties, gathered with dozens of representatives from Michigan’s public and private sectors to celebrate the groundbreaking of the organization’s Next Center. The groundbreaking ceremony marks the start of construction on the new downtown hub for innovation and business growth.
“The Next Center will add so much to this incredible community” said Neil Boehm, Chairman of the Board for Lakeshore Advantage. “This development will revitalize that corner of downtown Holland helping to attract people to the downtown area while also being a catalyst for continued economic growth.”
Lakeshore Advantage has supported product and technology startups with entrepreneurial programming since 2015 when the Holland SmartZone was established. The program, now known as SURGE powered by Lakeshore Advantage, currently boasts 38 members and has supported hundreds of concepts since its inception. Providing support for startups is part of the economic development organization’s strategy for developing a diversified regional economy and empowering the region to thrive in a rapidly evolving global economy.
“Entrepreneurship can’t be hidden; it can’t be tucked away”, said Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage. “We need to make a visible, accessible statement that the entrepreneurial ecosystem is alive, well, and growing—and come on in and be part of it!”
Lakeshore Advantage announced its plan to build the Next Center at the end of May. The announcement came following a business incubator grant awarded by the State of Michigan to help Lakeshore Advantage expand its entrepreneurial efforts.
“Risk-taking small businesses are the backbone of Michigan’s economy and we’re committed to doing all we can to provide the support, resources, and opportunities required for growth and success. Lakeshore Advantage’s Next Center is a shining example of how Team Michigan invests in the state’s small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO and Michigan Strategic Fund President and Chair Quentin Messer Jr. “We remain committed to working with our partners across West Michigan and statewide to deploy resources to spark additional innovation and economic opportunity here in Michigan. Work remains, but we are relentlessly focused on elevating our entrepreneurs and encouraging businesses of all sizes to make it in Michigan.”
The Next Center will consist of a three-story, 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility strategically located on the corner of College Ave. and 7th Street in downtown Holland. The Center will provide a collaborative space for startups, established businesses, and research institutions to come together on the first floor in its business incubator and community education spaces. Its second and third floors will be home to the headquarters of Lakeshore Advantage and an established business tenant which complements the ecosystem, respectively.
“At MillerKnoll, we deeply understand and appreciate the value that collaborative, multidimensional environments have,” said Andi Owen, MillerKnoll’s Chief Executive Officer. “The Next Center is going to be a tremendous asset to the Holland community, providing a place to spark innovation, create partnerships and cultivate new economic development. I am delighted to see this project break ground.”
The center will be owned and operated by Lakeshore Advantage and is part of the Holland SmartZone, a satellite district of the Grand Rapids SmartZone which directs tax increment financing (TIF) dollars toward economic development in the technology sector. The SmartZone provides technology companies, entrepreneurs and researchers a place to collaborate and share resources.
“Successful communities and businesses must be creative and innovative to thrive long term,” said Richard G. Haworth, Chairman Emeritus of Haworth, Inc. “The addition of The Next Center expands and opens new ways for that to happen. The Next Center will help us continue to foster West Michigan’s entrepreneurial spirit.”
Since Lakeshore Advantage announced the project, more than a dozen community businesses have committed leadership gifts to make the vision for the Next Center a reality. Donors include:
- The Brooks Family
- Gentex Corporation
- Haworth, Inc.
- Trans-Matic Mfg. Co., Inc.
- JR Automation Technologies
- Bayside Capital
- EV Construction
- Fifth Third Bank
- Koops Automation Systems
- Shape Corp.
- Lakewood Construction
- Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce
EV Construction is the contracted construction partner for The Next Center. Construction is expected to be completed in November 2024. To learn more about resources for entrepreneurs in West Michigan’s lakeshore region, visit https://lakeshoreadvantage.com/entrepreneurs/.