2008 Excellence Award Winner

Northern Initiatives | Marquette, MI

Northern Initiatives (NI) is a non-profit community development corporation that supports entrepreneurs, businesses, manufacturing firms, banks, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations in a common effort to strengthen the economy of Michigan’s Upper and northern Lower Peninsula and Northeastern Wisconsin.  Originally established by Northern Michigan University (NMU) in 1985, Northern Initiatives (NI) became a private, non-profit corporation in 1992.  While maintaining a partnership with NMU, Northern Initiatives is also affiliated with ShoreBank Corporation, a community development banking institution based in Chicago. Through its work, Northern Initiatives has made $27M in loans to over 350 businesses.  Fifty-five percent of its loans have been to start-up ventures.  Northern Initiatives also provides business and manufacturing consulting services.  Northern Initiatives serves the 15 counties of the Upper Peninsula, the 5 Wisconsin counties that border the U.P. and 29 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  Along with investing in start-up companies, Northern Initiatives has distinguished itself through partnerships with community banks.  Over 30% of NI loans have been made to manufacturers who have used these loans to finance new equipment or support improvements that help them to stay competitive.  Northern Initiatives is unique in its blending of financial and information services to support the growth of entrepreneurs and the development of rural economies.