DornerWorks Joins Local First and Other West Michigan Businesses Building a ‘Force for Good’

Whether its algorithm acceleration, connecting products to the Internet of Things, or developing technology for the autonomous vehicles of the future, DornerWorks understands the value of strategic collaboration. It's helped gain the company international recognition in aerospace and defense, as well as the automotive, medical, and industrial sectors.

As a technology engineering services firm, DornerWorks helps people make remarkable things, but the company is also making a profound difference at home. By joining Local First, DornerWorks adds its name to a long list of West Michigan business leaders, entrepreneurs, companies, and consumers who are dedicated to building “a force for good within the community.”

Local First 

Strong West Michigan companies, brewers, bakers, printers, and even engineers are making our community a landmark for sustainable business practices. A growing number of Local First members are also certified B corporations, committed to putting people and the planet before profit.

Now in its 15th year, Local First is strongly committed to the values of diversity, inclusion and equity in West Michigan, working towards a stronger local economy through local business empowerment.

“Local First has a passion for people living and working together in sustainable community,” says Local First President Elissa Hillary. “We envision a West Michigan that is nationally recognized for its quality of life, diverse entrepreneurial energy, beautiful environment, and unique local culture. And we believe that, together, we can make that dream a reality.”

Regional Impact

Joining local First is important to DornerWorks as both organizations see the benefit in growing businesses. DornerWorks through developing technologically complex business solutions, and Local First through supporting sustainable local economies and ecosystems, guiding them to “grow into markets that are greater than the sum of their parts,” the nonprofit maintains.

Local First's efforts concentrate on both business and personal development within the community at large, in which citizen stakeholders are empowered to protect the economic and environmental assets that strengthen that community. The intimate connections that arise from those efforts, between clients and companies make for a more vibrant and resilient local economy.

According to Local First's 2016 Annual Report, local businesses have a tremendous impact on the areas they grow in, with at least 44 percent collaborating with other businesses in the same community, and an estimated 36 percent promoting intentional environmental stewardship. What's more, as many as 85 percent contribute to charitable causes.

DornerWorks is proud to be one of those making an impact, and looks forward to many more years of doing the same. We will see you at this year's Local First Street Party!

For more information on Local first, check out their 2017 Annual Report.

BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support

Content orginally published on

On Tuesday, the chief executives of the world’s largest public companies will be receiving a letter from one of the most influential investors in the world. And what it says is likely to cause a firestorm in the corner offices of companies everywhere and a debate over social responsibility that stretches from Wall Street to Washington.

Laurence D. Fink, founder and chief executive of the investment firm BlackRock, is going to inform business leaders that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.

Mr. Fink has the clout to make this kind of demand: His firm manages more than $6 trillion in investments through 401(k) plans, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, making it the largest investor in the world, and he has an outsize influence on whether directors are voted on and off boards.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he wrote in a draft of the letter that was shared with me. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

It may be a watershed moment on Wall Street, one that raises all sorts of questions about the very nature of capitalism. “It will be a lightning rod for sure for major institutions investing other people’s money,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management and an expert on corporate leadership. “It is huge for an institutional investor to take this position across its portfolio.‘‘ He said he’s seen “nothing like it.’’ Read the full article 

Learn how B Corps are taking meaningful steps towards social responsibility – Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, responds on

Gold Coast Doulas

The team at Gold Coast Doulas has grown tremendously from four doulas at our launch in October of 2015 to 13 today. We also added a Placenta Encapsulator, an Infant Massage Instructor, and a Board Certified Lactation Consultant who offers in-home and office visits.

Our 13 doulas consist of four teams of birth doulas and eight postpartum doulas (there is overlap as some do both). One of our doulas is also our Multiples Expert. As a birth and postpartum doula and mother of twins, she is a wealth of knowledge for new parents of multiples.

We have doulas from Rockford to Kalamazoo, serving all of Grand Rapids and our Lakeshore communities.

Gold Coast expanded our educational offerings by including the following classes: The Modern Grandparent, Back to Work Pumping & Bottle Feeding, Infant Massage, Breastfeeding: Prepare with Confidence, Newborn Survival, HypnoBirthing, and Preparing for Multiples. Our goal is to be your home for support from conception through the first year.

In January of 2017, Alyssa Veneklase, Certified Postpartum Doula, joined the Gold Coast team as the new Co-Owner with Kristin Revere. She added gentle sleep consultations to the Gold Coast Service list as well.

We spent time giving back to the community as our doulas volunteered for the March of Dimes and the Healthy Kent Breastfeeding Coalition. We donated funds to support the work of Ele’s Place, Metro Health Foundation and MomsBloom. Gold Coast was an early supporter of Mothership and three of our team members attended their inaugural training. We held our 2nd Annual Diaper Drive for Nestlings Diaper Bank with our partnered collection drop off locations. We collected 13,337 disposable and cloth; 223 cloth inserts and 166 packages of wipes.

We worked with Simply Born Midwifery Services to bring “When The Bough Breaks” to the historic Wealthy Theatre. We had an engaged audience and a wonderful panel of experts to speak on postpartum depression and psychosis. We already are working on plans for the next film event. 

We are bringing a ProDoula birth and postpartum doula training to Grand Rapids in January with the intent of adding more doulas to our team at that time. We are also bringing a HypnoBirthing training here in April in order to add a second instructor. 

Our expansion also includes moving to a larger space. We are relocating from Cascade to the historic Kingsley Building in Eastown on March 1st. We are excited to be a part of Eastown and become active within the community there. 

In 2017 we became a part of the Radio for Divas network with our own radio show airing daily. We expanded those into podcast episodes called Ask the Doulas that can be found on SoundCloud and iTunes. We answer questions from clients, friends, and the community about topics related to parenting, pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. We talk to our own team of doulas and experts, as well as experts from the community to answer questions.

You can contact us at: or at (616) 294-0207. 

Five reasons your business needs a local freelance copywriter

As the owner or manager of a small business, you know who, what, where, how, and why you exist better than anyone else. You understand the history and possess the vision – and realize the importance of sales and marketing to attract new and keep existing customers. But you also have a budget. Hiring an ad agency or marketing firm can be costly so to save money, you consider writing your own website content or sales brochure.

But, wait! Have you considered hiring a local freelance writer? Here are five great reasons why you should.


  1. n

    Professional copywriters write copy that gets results! Your goal is to make sales, right? An experienced marketing writer knows how to use words to attract, persuade and influence customers. The copy will pay for itself in the sales it generates.


  2. n

    Freelance copywriters specialize in compelling, sales-producing marketing communications. Whereas your specialty may be fashion retailing, real estate, or auto repair, a copywriter’s relevant degree and years of experience writing effective marketing copy are invaluable.


  3. n

    Hiring a freelance copywriter frees up your time to do the things you need to do to grow your business. You’re a busy business owner and writing your own copy is probably not the best use of your time. A skilled writer helps ensure you’ll get great copy when you want it – not when you can fit it in to your own schedule.


  4. n

    Establishing an ongoing relationship with a local freelance writer pays off in a variety of ways. A freelance writer is a small business owner like you. They “get it” and know firsthand what it’s like to open, operate, and flourish as a business owner in the local community. Think of the possibilities for networking and referrals. Trusted relationships are invaluable in business.


  5. n

    A fresh, objective perspective by a professional writer is more likely to focus on what’s in it for the customer. Your business will benefit from a writer’s expertise in creating compelling copy in layman’s terms. A sure way to attract new customers and keep existing customers coming back!  


  6. n

To find a local copywriter in your area, visit the Local First member directory.

Susan Julien Larimore of SJLwriter LLC is a professional freelance writer and editor in West Michigan. She specializes in small business marketing communications including website content, sales materials, and blog writing. Learn more at

Celebrating business as a force for good

Originally published on

Every year, we celebrate businesses that are doing great things for our local communities and economy through our LocalMotion Awards. This year, we are excited to share some changes to the LocalMotion Awards that will allow us to recognize the growing number of companies and entrepreneurs across West Michigan that are using their businesses as a force for good.

Since launching the LocalMotion Awards in 2011, dozens of businesses have been honored for doing outstanding work in addressing the changing needs in social, environmental and economic sustainability. As our community grows, in response so must the LocalMotion Awards.

In 2018, we will relocate our LocalMotion Awards to Holland to honor lakeshore businesses and host an inaugural Lakeshore Annual Meeting; launch the Good for Grand Rapids Awards; and bestow a Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award during each annual meeting.

Local First 8th Annual Meeting, Jan. 25
nThe 8th Annual Meeting will continue to provide a space to connect over a shared vision to create a stronger, more sustainable West Michigan. I will share updates on the past, present and future of Local First and announce our 2018 Measure What Matters program series. We are looking forward to honoring an individual or organization with the Guy Bazzani Local Legacy Award and will anticipate the Good for Grand Rapids Awards in March.

Lakeshore Annual Meeting, Feb. 8
nWith so many incredible businesses across the lakeshore that make a positive impact in their communities every day, we decided to host the LocalMotion Awards at the inaugural Lakeshore Annual Meeting in February. We will recognize another Local Legacy Award recipient as well as lakeshore business owners who are using their business as a force for good in three categories: environment, community and employees.

Good for Grand Rapids Awards, March 8
nSince launching Good for Grand Rapids last January, nearly 100 Grand Rapids-area businesses have taken the Quick Impact Assessment to measure their positive impact on their employees, community and the environment. The next phase in this campaign is to recognize those who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact, which will take form at the Good for Grand Rapids Awards in March. These businesses are leaders in positive change and will be honored in the Good for the Environment, Good for the Community, Good for Governance and Good for Employees categories.

We are so proud of the growing number of companies and entrepreneurs that are committed to positive environmental and social change throughout West Michigan. On behalf of Local First and Good for Grand Rapids, I am looking forward to celebrating these businesses and continuing to engage more businesses that are using their business as a force for good. I also invite you to head over to the Local First website for more details about our upcoming celebrations.