Guiding everything we do

We envision Southwest Michigan as one of the most economically prosperous regions in Michigan and the United States. Though much work remains, significant progress has been made. We have many people to thank — including our Board of Directors, Council of 100 contributors, business owners of every size and type, community leaders, and our team — for believing in our mission of increasing the economic prosperity for all in Southwest Michigan.

Since our founding 25 years ago, our guiding motto has been the greatest force for change is a job, but it’s our core values that form the foundation of our work:

  • Leadership – We believe in the transformational power of leadership. Our work is advanced by harnessing the collective power of our existing leaders while cultivating, fostering, and equipping the next generation.
  • Excellence – We provide the highest level of service and value to the region and believe that we can achieve more when we collaborate and work together. We value and develop our employees’ diverse talent and leadership to provide superior quality in all that we do.
  • Inclusivity – We believe that diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities and workplaces create greater vibrancy and engagement. We value everyone and treat people with respect, dignity, and professionalism.
  • Integrity – We build trust through honest and transparent relationships. We make responsible decisions that support community vitality and are ethical.
  • Innovation – We research, anticipate, and respond to emerging trends to ensure a vibrant future for the region. We believe that the future is bright and we can curate the future through curiosity, collaboration, and unwavering commitment to challenge and change our best every day.
DEI Statement

As Southwest Michigan’s community and economic development organization, we are committed to fulfilling our mission to increase economic prosperity for all in our communities through inclusive and equitable actions that support businesses, entrepreneurs, and residents of all races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, gender identifications, beliefs disabilities, and backgrounds. When we feel free to be ourselves, we all thrive.
We will support these ongoing efforts by actively working to:

      • Increase wealth creation opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other historically underserved communities through our programming and community engagement.
      • Integrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within all areas of the Southwest Michigan First organization and its’ work.
      • Provide equitable access to economic growth opportunities for all who live and work in Southwest Michigan.
      • Strengthen and support partner organizations who share similar commitments.

Our work will continue to evolve as we listen, learn, measure, and collaborate with our regional communities to increase economic prosperity for all.