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GLEQ merges with Small Business Foundation of Michigan, rebrands as MiQuest

January 30, 2014

Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest (GLEQ) announced a new development in its efforts to accelerate and leverage its 14-year history of providing services and support to entrepreneurs.

GLEQ has merged with the Small Business Foundation of Michigan (SBF), an independent 501(c)(3), established more than ten years ago by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). The combined organization has been named MiQuest.

In making the announcement, MiQuest’s President Diane Durance said the rebranding of GLEQ and its alignment with SBF allows MiQuest to tap the historical strengths of both organizations and positions it to offer services to 13,000 members of GLEQ’s entrepreneurial community and to more than 5,000 second-stage businesses involved with SBF.

Through a network of volunteer ambassadors and coaches, and its business plan competitions, GLEQ has provided more than 7,000 entrepreneurs with a critical first experience vying for attention and funding dollars. Entrepreneurs have received expert one-on-one coaching, connections to resources, exposure to investors, and ongoing education to help them take ideas from mind to market.

“We will be continuing the strong initiatives of both organizations, including the GLEQ Business Plan Competition, 50 Companies To Watch and the annual publication of the Michigan Entrepreneurship Score Card,” Durance said.

MiQuest invites Michigan entrepreneurs to compete in the 2014 GLEQ Business Plan Competition. Registration begins Feb. 10 at www.MiQuest.org. Participants will be matched with a business coach, have opportunities to meet investors, receive feedback on their business plan, and compete for awards to be presented in June.

In late February, MiQuest will release the tenth annual Michigan Entrepreneurship Score Card. This report uses 120 different metrics to track Michigan’s entrepreneurial vitality, climate and growth. Copies of the report can be reserved at www.MiQuest.org.

“MiQuest is taking a fresh look at the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We plan to identify gaps where important work can be done to propel the growth and vitality of the entrepreneurial culture and to improve Michigan’s entrepreneurial impact, climate, rankings and reputation.” said MiQuest Board Chairman and past SBAM chair Yan Ness, CEO of Online Tech Inc. based in Ann Arbor.

“We’ll expand our legacy programs, cultivate new collaborative relationships, and build mentor and support resources to take entrepreneurs from startup through second stage growth.”

MiQuest also plans to convene and develop a new community of Michigan’s most ambitious and growth-focused entrepreneurs in 2014. This community will provide the foundation for peer-to-peer advising for entrepreneurs and identify potential mentor matches and be a focal point for support services and education.

“Entrepreneurs value connections and learning opportunities with peers and mentors,” said MiQuest Board Member and current SBAM chair Bob Fish, CEO of East Lansing-based Biggby Coffee. “MiQuest is positioned to create measurable positive impacts and grow Michigan’s culture of entrepreneurship.”

“In the long run, we want to be the catalyst for more opportunity, prosperity, critical thinking and self-reliance for everyone in our state. We want to get back to our historical roots as being THE state of entrepreneurship,” Fish said.

MiQuest’s founding board of directors includes:

— Yan Ness, CEO, Online Tech Inc., Ann Arbor, chairman.

— Jack Ahrens, general partner, TGap Ventures LLC, Kalamazoo, vice chairman.

— Rob Fowler, president, Small Business Association of Michigan, Lansing, treasurer.

— Paula Cunningham, president and CEO, Capitol National Bank, Lansing.

— Bob Fish, CEO, Biggby Coffee, East Lansing.

— Ken Kousky, CEO, IP3 and MidMichigan Innovation Center, Midland; president, Blue Water Angels, Midland.

— Remos Lenio, managing director, DWH, LLC, Grand Rapids.

— Jeff Van Winkle, member, Clark Hill, PLC, Grand Rapids.

Durance said MiQuest is already welcoming collaborative partnerships with other entrepreneurial support organizations, entrepreneurs, coaches, educators, and investors.

To sign up to receive MiQuest’s monthly calendar of entrepreneurial events, go to www.MiQuest.org. 

For more information, contact Diane Durance, MiQuest president, at (734) 255-3183, or by email at ddurance@miquest.org.  Or contact Miche Suboski, MiQuest managing director, at (586) 929-4782, or by email at msuboski@miquest.org.

MiQuest’s mailing address is:

MiQuest

120 N. Washington Square

Suite 1000-A

Lansing, Michigan 48933

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