Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Speaking -- Come see me in a suit :)

Entrepreneurship is the focus of Summit 2010 in South Haven

SOUTH HAVEN — Economic development on Michigan’s southwest shoreline is looking to make a shift.

“There is still an old paradigm of economic development,” said Rachel Vochaska, executive director of the 400-member South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce.

It centered on hunting down and attracting companies from elsewhere.

“While that should still be a component (of the effort),” she said, “we need to start looking at how we grow our talent, retain our current companies, and looking at cultivating more businesses in the community.”

She said to think of it as “economic gardening.”

Inspiring that effort will be the focus of the fifth annual summit of the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bob Fish, chief executive officer and co-founder of the rapidly-growing, East Lansing-based Biggby Coffee shops, and Charles Ballard, a Michigan State University economist and author, will key on that during the Nov. 4 gathering, from 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at Lake Michigan College’s South Haven campus.

“What we want to do is shift the thinking ... that entrepreneurship is an integral component of the economic engine in the state of Michigan,” Vochaska said.

She said Fish is going to talk about what got him going in business, “what supercharged him to the next level, what the potential is for Michigan, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, and what the constraints are.”

The 15-year-old Biggby has grown from one location in East Lansing to about 120 stores open or under contract to open in six states (Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Michigan).

Ballard is expected to identify and explore the connection between entrepreneurship and a prosperous Michigan. The event will also include a panel discussion by entrepreneurial support organizations.

The cost to attend the summit is $69 per person. It is $59 per person for Chamber members or for two people from the same organization. It is $49 per person for three people or more from the same organization. Registration may be made by contacting the Chamber via or at 269-637-5171. More information is available at

Contact Al Jones at or 269-388-8556.

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