BENTON HARBOR, Mich., (April 29, 2022) – The Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Cornerstone Alliance has been recognized as the 2022 WBC of the Year in the state of Michigan by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The award will be presented on May 3, 2022, at the 18th annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala. A local celebration will be held at the Cornerstone Alliance office on May 5, 2022, at 12:00 PM with SBA representatives.

The WBC has helped launch 235 businesses in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties since 2004, including 59 businesses in the City of Benton Harbor. New programs and initiatives have been continually developed to better serve the local small business community.

The WBC played an integral role in assisting local businesses through the recovery process following the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the WBC helped launch 19 new small businesses, supported 192 jobs, and helped clients secure capital investments of $5.5 million in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. Additionally, the WBC counseled and trained 1062 unique clients, and launched a re-brand initiative to improve its service.

"We’re grateful for this recognition, but without the commitment, drive, and tenacity of Southwest Michigan entrepreneurs, this award would not be possible," said Rob Cleveland, President and CEO of Cornerstone Alliance. "This award signifies the devotion of the WBC team to create meaningful programming, to provide expert counseling, and to meet clients where they are in their own entrepreneurial journeys. For more than a century, Southwest Michigan entrepreneurs have created products with global demand. From appliances to wine, fitness to fashion, and everything in between, our community is a place where small businesses start, grow and thrive."

The success of the WBC is a direct reflection of the success in the small business community, and would not be possible without support of Cornerstone Alliance, the WBC Advisory Council, and the SBA. Through support of aforementioned organizations and investors, entrepreneurs have opportunities to receive business counseling and training at little to no cost.

“We are honored to have earned the Women’s Business Center of the Year award," said Brandon Campbell, Director of the WBC. "This is validation of the passion we have for the women and BIPOC communities we serve and the intentionality of our initiatives and resources to help better the lives for diverse entrepreneurs in rural Southwest Michigan. Personally, I am grateful for our clients for choosing the WBC as their reliable entrepreneur support organization, our Cornerstone Alliance team, investors and the SBA for supporting the WBC’s mission of empowering women, BIPOC, veterans, socially and economically disadvantaged groups through entrepreneurship.”

Additional information about the awards gala can be found at MichiganCelebrates.org.