Dennis West, Northern Initiatives (Marquette) – Region 1

dwest-headshot Dennis has spent over 30 years in the Community Economic Development Movement, having worked on a broad range of community-based civic and professional activities.

Since 1997, Dennis has served as President of Northern Initiatives, a private not for profit community development financial institution based in Marquette, Michigan.  Northern Initiatives was founded by Northern Michigan University.  Northern Initiatives serves 46 counties of rural Michigan and five Wisconsin Counties, providing financial and business advancement services to underserved rural markets.  Northern Initiatives helps people start and grow businesses, strategizes with communities to develop public private partnerships, and promotes entrepreneurship, tourism and regional collaboration. NI has made 800 loans totalling more than $46,000,000 with forty percent of its loans to women owned businesses, and around one third to start ups.  Its business advancement services provide technical assistance, training and consulting  to  its  200 loan portfolio.

Dennis serves on the Boards of the Michigan Magnet Fund,  UP Business Capital, the Episcopal Ministry Support Team of the Northern Episcopal Diocese, the Prima Civitas Foundation, the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance and the Great Lakes Regional Training Initiative; and the Advisory Boards of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Region One Small Business Technology Development Center, and the Finance Committee of the Community Foundations of the Upper Peninsula. Dennis is a Coach Mentor for the Kellogg Foundation, Fellows Program.  Dennis was the recipient of the 2011 LandUse Excellence Leadership Award given by Michigan State University and the Michigan Land Use Funders.

Dennis is a native of Indianapolis, having received his undergraduate degree from Hanover College and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Urban Affairs.