Northern Initiatives Prosperity. Money and Know How


Northern Initiatives and its customers are on the move

Regenerative Economies

Next City conducted a Q&A with Northern Initiatives President Elissa Sangalli about the crucial role CDFIs play in shifting local economies from being extractive to community-focused.


What an Impact!

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) did an impact study on Northern Initiatives’ Small Business Loan Program in Battle Creek and the impact these small businesses have had on their community is impressive!


GR lunch and learn

A series of lunchtime meetings will help entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids familiarize themselves with multiple aspects of business ownership. Venard Roberson of Northern Initiatives will talk July 27.


A Powerful Ally

For three and a half years, Northern Initiatives has had a powerful ally in West Michigan. Leandra Nisbet, owner of Stingray Advisory Group in Grand Rapids, has worked with scores of Northern Initiatives customers.


Business Planning Cohort

To fine-tune and improve his business plan, John Capers joined a group of 10 other business owners as part of a free incubator program through Northern Initiatives.


Strategic Plan

Northern Initiatives envisions a thriving economy comprised of small place-based businesses. The organization believes communities with higher proportions of local ownership are healthier and more resilient.


MMTC Merging with Traverse City Office

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-Upper Peninsula center, affiliated with NI for 30+ years, will merge with the Traverse City MMTC Regional office this summer.


Board Member Testifies to Congress

Tom Vear, a Northern Initiatives Board member, small business owner and NI loan recipient, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.


Spring Customers in the News

The future is female; a new independent bookstore; GRNoir celebrates its 1-year anniversary; Hungry Hippie of Alpena is a Michigan Best Small Business, and more.


Folleto en español

West Michigan, obtenga más información sobre nuestros servicios.¡Estamos listos para ayudarlo a iniciar y hacer crecer su negocio! Click here to download the brochure in English.


Our Annual Report

If the country didn’t realize the importance of Community Development Financial Institutions before the pandemic, they certainly are aware now.



Northern Initiatives is helping Snackwerks, a Battle Creek contract manufacturer, grow and hire. Federal funding is helping build a fourth production line and create 27 jobs.


Entrepreneur Education

Northern Initiatives continues its mission of supporting Battle Creek businesses with new programs designed specifically for early stage entrepreneurs.


Customers in the News

Yoder Forest Products featured by John Deere. The Blackrocks Brewery expansion is open for business. And Bier de Mac has started a really cool speaker series, “Tap Talks.”


Impactful Gifts

If you want your money to go further, keep it close to home. Here are some of the wonderful local businesses we support; get out in your community to discover even more!


As Seen on TV

Craftsman Phil Myer just wanted to pick up some quarter sawn white oak at his local lumberyard. He didn’t know he was going to be famous. “Hey, was that your lamp I saw on TV last night?”


Fall Customers in the News

Public Thread is revolutionizing the textile industry. Beechwood Cafe is serving up the freshest food possible. These small businesses, helped by Northern Initiatives, are in the news.


CSG at Italian Fest

The missions of the Continuous Solutions Group aligned with a project to implement standard work at Iron Mountain’s Italian Fest. Even Gov. Gretchen Whitmer noticed.


Community Business Loans

The Community Business Loan Fund is a great example of partners on multiple levels working together to support communities. The 20 communities we work with love these loans.


Customers in the News

These small businesses, helped by Northern Initiatives, bring you everything from freshly brewed coffee to tarot cards, bubble tea to sweet deals. And they’re in the news.


Initiate Is Growing

We just launched a section for Startups, to go along with sections on Money, Marketing, and Management. We continue to add subscribers around the country. And now we’re adding more strength to the Business Services team.

Line of Credit Partners

Northern Initiatives has partnered with Marshall Community Credit Union to offer our first line of credit to a loan customer. We plan to expand the program statewide in 2022.

Perseverance Rewarded

The federal government’s Rapid Response Fund acknowledged our hard work and perseverance with grants to CDFIs around the country, including Northern Initiatives. It affirms our work is appreciated.

Initiate’s Startup Resources

Initiate’s startup resources are in four categories: Idea, Plan, Fund, Launch. The startup resources are in addition to the 300+ existing Initiate resources about Money, Management, and Marketing.

NI’s PPP Success Stories

The Grand Rapids Business Journal and TV6 in Marquette did stories about our PPP efforts, showing the breadth of our lending. “[T]he Michigan-based lender is not done helping under-resourced small businesses.”

MEDC Initiate Cohort

Initiate, Northern Initiatives’ online business resource, is already in use in 33 states. Now we’re blanketing our own backyard, thanks to a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

PPP Stories (Part 3)

Opening a business during a pandemic is tricky. Jeff and Patti Dewes got some grants that helped, but every time they tried to qualify for a PPP loan they were told Tillie’s Tafel hadn’t been in business long enough.

PPP Stories (Part 2)

Running a restaurant is like raising a baby, said Paola Mendivil. “You have to care for it, take care of it.” There have been times during the past year when she did feel like throwing in the towel, but El Granjero is her baby.

PPP Stories (Part 1)

The Paycheck Protection Program has been a lifeline to many during this pandemic, but there have also been disparities. We wanted to fix that, so we reached out to colleagues, friends, and partners to find businesses that had been left behind.

Our Annual Report

While the world seemed to be simultaneously spinning out of control and standing still, Northern Initiatives stuck to our mission of helping underserved businesses survive and succeed.

Initiate Annual Report

At Northern Initiatives, we’ve been building our training, education, and technology systems for years. That’s why Initiate was able to transition, grow, and help more businesses during the pandemic.

A Note from our President

This past year, my first as president of Northern Initiatives, has been full of learning, lending, awe, and gratitude. In 2020, we had a 25% increase in loans closed, making more than 200 loan modifications to support 268 customers.

TCF Mini-Grants

Northern Initiatives along with TCF Bank offered mini-grants to support businesses during the COVID crisis. This was a reimbursement-based grant, offered to select northern Michigan businesses.