Posted in News on May 20, 2021

Celebrate five years of startup success on June 17

05/20/2021 // ZEELAND, MICH. Lakeshore Advantage, the local economic development organization that assists employers with growth opportunities in Ottawa and Allegan counties, invites business and community members who support innovation and entrepreneurship to the SURGE Celebration at the Holland Civic Center from 5-7pm on June 17. This outdoor in-person event will celebrate five years of accomplishments within the Holland SmartZone and showcase local startup companies. 
“Our community has a long history of developing, innovating and making world renowned products. The resources, provided by the SmartZone and support services developed by our team, will ensure that history continues for many years to come,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage President. “The SURGE Celebration will showcase the years of work and our thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs and startups.

The SURGE Celebration brings together leaders and champions of the Holland SmartZone
as well as business and community members interested in fostering a local culture of innovation and learning more about the region’s startup community. Gentex, the region’s largest employer, will be showcasing the company’s cutting-edge technology and products, developed and manufactured locally in West Michigan. Gentex is the premier sponsor of the SURGE Celebration, demonstrating their continued commitment to innovation and economic opportunity in the region. 
“As a growing tech company and longtime local employer, Gentex remains committed to supporting economic development efforts that help our area grow and maintain its world-class business climate,” said Neil Boehm, Gentex Chief Technology Officer. “In addition, we know the pandemic has created unique needs among established employers and the startup community alike, which is why we’re further motivated to renew our support for both Lakeshore Advantage and the entrepreneurial resources SURGE provides.” 
SURGE, the entrepreneurial support organization managed by Lakeshore Advantage, navigates startup companies to their next growth milestones and receives funding through the Holland SmartZone. The Holland SmartZone, established in 2016, is one of 20 SmartZones throughout Michigan where tech-based companies, entrepreneurs and researchers can locate in close proximity to community assets that assist in startup company activity. The Michigan SmartZone network is managed through the Michigan Economic Development Organization (MEDC). The MEDC is a sponsor of the SURGE Celebration in support of statewide entrepreneurship. 
“Michigan has a proud reputation for its entrepreneurial spirit and world-class innovation in part thanks to the passion and commitment of partners like Lakeshore Advantage in supporting startups here in the state,” said Fred Molnar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the MEDC. “The MEDC is proud to support the work that Lakeshore Advantage has accomplished through its SURGE programs and resources over the past five years to support the West Michigan startup community. We look forward to building on our partnership with them to continue growing Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in the years to come.”
Milestones being celebrated at the event include the navigation of 135 startup companies and entrepreneurs. These companies and entrepreneurs have reported raising more than $38 million in capital, and creating or retaining 400 jobs, over the last five years.  
The SURGE Celebration will include the opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs and their products on display. Start Garden, an entrepreneurial support organization based in Grand Rapids, will also be present, collecting business idea pitches for the Start Garden 100 business ideas pitch competition. Individuals who pitch a business idea at the Start Garden pop-up booth at the Holland Civic Center on June 17 will receive free admission to the SURGE Celebration. More about Start Garden 100 at 

“We invite the community to come out and meet our startups and entrepreneurs and get that first-hand experience of the products and technologies being developed here,” said Amanda Chocko, Director of Entrepreneurship at Lakeshore Advantage. “It’s one thing to hear that great things are happening, it’s entirely different to come out and enjoy a night of food, fun, and connection with this fantastic startup community.”
Registration is required for the SURGE Celebration, unless pitching an idea at the Start Garden 100 booth. More information and registration for this event can be found at: