Reach Higher with U.S. Airforce Recruiter, John Riggs

Have you ever thought of the U.S. Airforce to be more than just a branch of the military that flies planes or reminds you of your favorite movie? The Airforce is also an institution that provides education, makes connections, and builds relationships.

Master Sergeant John Riggs, Enlisted Accessions Recruiter has been in the U.S. Airforce since 2008. In 2020, Riggs came to Jackson to begin recruiting for the Airforce. His job is to visit schools throughout southern Michigan to attend class talks, career fairs, and events in order to find eligible recruits that may be interested in joining the Airforce. Riggs is the main recruiter in Jackson County and is constantly reminded of the good the Airforce has done for his life.

Riggs is originally from Atlantic City and determined at a young age that he wanted to be part of the U.S. Military. He even shared that his mom recently sent him a picture of one of his second-grade school projects where he answered the classic prompt “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Army man.” 15 days after his high school graduation, he joined the Airforce.

When going through the process of gaining a recruit, Riggs explained that it all starts with a simple phone call. From there, the recruit starts with MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). All before basic training, a recruit has to pass a series of pre-screenings, as well as armed service, aptitude, battery, and physical tests. This may sound daunting, but it all takes an average of three months before they can move on to basic training.

The Airforce has given Riggs opportunities he had never had before. Education, health benefits, real-world experience, relationships, and lifelong friendships are all something the Airforce made possible for him. As he recruits, he sees himself in the young airmen who are new to the Airforce but is able to give back and provide opportunities to young people who are in the same place that Riggs once was. Riggs has been in the Airforce for 14 years, and now being a recruiter himself, he often reflects on his recruiter when he began his process. He enjoys being a part of the reason former recruits return to their community and come back disciplined, educated, and better overall.

Working for an employer that has several veterans within its own walls, Ron O’Rourke is extremely proud that Monster Motors is sponsoring Jackson County’s recruiting office. Giving back in this way is something that goes beyond a business-to-business relationship. Riggs exchanged an Airforce coin to show respect and thanks for their budding partnership. In the Airforce, the exchange of a coin typically signifies appreciation for a job well done.

Participating in community events has been a large component of recruiting. You may have seen Riggs flying on Aviation Day at the Jackson County Airport, or even volunteering at a local event. If you’re a school looking to have Riggs speak, hosting a career fair or an assembly, he is excited to hear from you.

If you or someone you know may be interested in joining the Airforce, Master Sergeant Riggs is most accessible by phone. Give him a call at 517-945-4218 to set up an appointment to discuss next steps, or simply to see if the military is right for you.

How Experience Jackson Partners with Jackson County

Jackson County is known for a number of unique things: beautiful parks, a bustling startup community, delicious coneys, and an event calendar that is filled to the brim. One of Experience Jackson’s greatest pleasures is being able to build community partnerships to keep that calendar of events as packed as can be. You may have noticed the Experience Jackson logo at the finish line of a race, on the back of a volunteer’s t-shirt, or overheard their name on the mic at an event. You may wonder how those appearances come to be, or how Experience Jackson can partner with your business.

Experience Jackson’s mission is to strengthen the positive perception of Jackson County as a must-visit destination to increase revenues and stimulate economic development and growth for the community.

Photo: Andrew Volk

Bright Walls, in addition to Jackson’s more notable events, is a prime example of what a partnership with Experience Jackson can look like. The financial contribution Experience Jackson has made allows for an artist to paint the back of the shared Experience Jackson/Chamber of Commerce building. Luckily for the Chamber, the entire team and our community get to enjoy the mural on the back of our shared building for decades to come.

With that also comes social media promotion on each end, logoed materials throughout the festival, and other features. Though Bright Walls is showing Experience Jackson a bit of love, Experience Jackson also likes to highlight the organizations and events they sponsor, since it is a partnership after all. Experience Jackson highlighted the Bright Walls Finale in a recent blog, on their social media, and in their monthly newsletter. Sharing who Experience Jackson proudly partners with is one of the many benefits that come with allowing Experience Jackson to get involved in your event.

Photo: Kelli Schweizer

Experience Jackson is also getting involved face-to-face with the festival, with a booth in front of the office and their very own “Chalk Alley,” where children can come to the office the Friday of Bright Walls and create their own masterpieces along the side of the Chamber/Experience Jackson building.

Bright Walls is an excellent example of an event that draws people to Jackson and stimulates economic development. Investing in something that adds another layer of what makes our county great contributes to their mission of attracting people to the area, creating a livelier place to both live and visit.

When a sponsorship opportunity presents itself, the entire Experience Jackson team gets to review it; they decide as a team whether or not they should move forward with a partnership, and in what way. Each partnership is unique and individual and decided on a case-by-case basis. Some sponsorships look like a financial donation, but are not limited to gift baskets, presence at the event via vendor booth, or even an appearance by JACK the Elephant.

If you or your business are hosting an event and are excited about the opportunity to partner with Experience Jackson, you can send a request here. Or, if you or your business are hosting an event and want to publish it to Experience Jackson’s Community Calendar, click here.

Meech & Muff Heavenly Foods is Cooking for Change

When struggling with something, people cope in a multitude of ways. Some may go for a walk, others exercise, or even dive into a TV show or book to distract themselves from the world. For Shanice Galloway, it’s getting in the kitchen, turning on some R&B, and starting to cook. Cooking has always been a passion for Shanice, but it has taken on a whole new meaning for her in the past several years.

Meech & Muff Heavenly Foods was originally named after Meech, Shanice’s brother, who was murdered in 2017. Born and raised on the southside of Jackson, Shanice does the work she does to implement change and be an example to those around her. She had begun cooking to cope with the loss of her brother. The business had just taken off, she had purchased a food truck in 2020 with the hopes of being able to serve events on the go. Her momentum sadly took a halt in 2021, just a few short years after losing her brother, Shanice’s fiancé, Muff, was also murdered in 2021. It was a loss that shook the community, especially for Shanice whose life had changed forever. Suddenly losing someone who was loved and admired by everyone she met and having to deal with obstacles no one should have to overcome. From there, Meech & Muff Heavenly Foods came to be, as Shanice continued to cook to cope with the loss of both her brother and her fiancé.

She has used her talents to feed the homeless to get the community back together again. Shanice points out that her community needs to find a solution for the peace and safety of those she loves. Comfort food takes on a whole new meaning when it brings healing and positivity to a community that has been struggling for years, which is something Shanice has witnessed her entire life.

Shanice is best known for the variety of egg rolls she creates, and other delectable creations like southwest chicken and ribs. She provides comfort foods to those in the area and even delivers them herself. Right now, she cooks out of her home daily, specifically what is special ordered by text. In the future, she hopes for her business to grow in a whole new way, where she will be equipped to cater larger events. So far, she has done four events and hopes to continue by doing office parties, birthday parties, or even weddings.

As for now, she hopes to revisit the food truck after she took a step back after the passing of her fiancé. Now, stronger than ever, she hopes to cook food that will not only feed her community but continue to help her to heal. As she is just getting her business of the ground, she and the team at Monster Motors are proud to be working together to make her Chamber Membership possible in order to build connections and grow her customer base.

Soon, she will have a website that will streamline her business practices. For now, she is sharing her menu on her Facebook page and his taking orders by phone, 517-769-4354. She is also available by email for larger events,

Spring Arbor University Celebrates 150 Years

On September 2, 2023, Spring Arbor will officially be turning 150 years old. Spring Arbor will be hosting a variety of events throughout the entire school year to celebrate its sesquicentennial. Some new, some old, but all rooted in SAU’s tradition.

Despite being open for a century and a half, many of the traditions and values have held strong. SAU will be kicking off its school year with the Party in the Plaza on August 27. At this event, there will be a live concert, fireworks, food, activities for the whole family, prizes, giveaways, and even an unveiling of their new mascot. SAU will still be the Cougars we know, just with a new, updated look. This event is open to all ages and is completely free, so join the fun and celebrate what is only the beginning of their sesquicentennial year.

In honor of their sesquicentennial, SAU will be hosting additional events all year, some being exclusive to this year. Other traditions will be bigger and better than ever before, like homecoming festivities beginning October 1 and the Hanging of the Greens on December 2, which will include a live concert, wagon rides, cocoa, cookies, and fireworks.

SAU sets itself apart from other universities based on the foundations it was built on back in 1873, which are providing access to learning and welcoming everyone into their community. They also provide high-quality, Christ-centered education. Being a liberal arts school allows each student to learn outside of their major. No matter what path a student chooses at SAU, it will be something worthwhile in many ways outside of just education.

One of SAU’s unique traditions that the freshman will be participating in at the Parting at the Plaza, once they move in, is the group blessing where each student holds a piece of ribbon while gathered in a circle to signify the start of their journey together at SAU. At that point, the family leaves, and education begins. This event mirrors the night after the seniors’ baccalaureate and night before commencement, where each student participates in the Cutting of the Ivy. Each of these events bookends the students’ time at SAU.

If there’s any institution that can rock a name like sesquicentennial, it’s Spring Arbor University. SAU is proud to be a part of the community of Jackson and invite everyone to celebrate their 150th year with them. Join SAU in their sesquicentennial celebrations by going to

Big Plans for a Community Staple

The Jackson Crossing Mall has been a staple of our community for decades. It’s where you may have bought your new shoes for the school year, your mom’s favorite Christmas gifts, or even made the quick Target run. There are huge developments coming and big dreams behind closed revolving doors.

Jane Flores, General Manager of the Jackson Crossing, oversees the three sections of the mall. The first of those sections is the Jackson Plaza, which includes the restaurants and shops along Boardman Road like Texas Roadhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Best Buy. The next is the Jackson Crossing Mall, which of course has your Target, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx. Then, finally, the third of the triad is Jackson West located along Wisner Street, which includes places like the Michael’s, Office Max, and Xfinity.

Jane is new to the Jackson Crossing as of this year and absolutely loves it. She is all about what the mall gives to visitors, not just to maintain what’s already there, but to attract, improve, and repair the mall Jackson has known and loved for years. After spending the last 20 years in San Antonio, she’s excited to implement what she’s learned in her previous position and bring some of that excitement to the Jackson Crossing. So far, in the short time that Jane has been at the Crossing, she has made a more family-friendly area over by Jackson Popcorn Depot, to suit visitors of all ages. She has also resurrected some horses that were found in storage and used back when the mall had a carousel back around the time it was built in 1960.

Beginning in July, the Crossing will have food trucks for employees of the mall and shoppers to enjoy, and that’s only the beginning of some of the exciting things coming to the mall. Though she can’t reveal everything that’s in store, she hopes to bring in massage chairs for shoppers to kick their feet up after a long afternoon of walking the mall. Subtle aesthetic changes are coming, but as always, the mall will revolve around the same thing: fun for the whole family. With the expansion of what the mall has to offer, Jane is looking to hire a part-time social media manager to really showcase what’s going on. This position will offer flexible hours and plenty of creative freedom.

The Crossing has experienced some sleepiness in recent years. That can be attributed to the fact that we’re all used to online shopping since the pandemic, or because you may think you already know what’s there. However, slowly but surely, Jane has noticed an increase in foot traffic in recent months. She shared that there’s even a group of seniors who walk the mall in the mornings together. The mall is a great place to explore and see what’s new. Next time you run in for an errand or to return some clothes, take the time to walk the mall. You may come across a jewelry repairer who can fix that broken chain that’s been in your drawer for months or an acupuncturist who can fix that back pain that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Those at the Crossing are excited to see entrepreneurs and local businesses expand into the mall. There are a few vacancies waiting to be filled by local businesses. Jackson Crossing is a great place for a local business to thrive. There isn’t anything Jane and her team wouldn’t love to see open in the mall. The sky is the limit! It’s time to re-acquaint yourself with what the Crossing is and can be.

Kiosks Available!

Though Jane has a lot of new and exciting ideas for the future of the Crossing, she hopes to bring back tradition at the same time. The Crossing was once known as a place to spend the day to hang out with friends, socialize, walk around, and even grab some food. Jane hopes to see the Crossing become that sort of destination again in the future. She said proudly “If they did it then, I can do it now.”

If your business is looking to open a brick-and-mortar, or you or someone you know may be interested in becoming Jackson Crossing’s Social Media Manager, contact Jane at to take the first step.

H.B. Fuller Makes It Stick

These dumping machines have been used since the ’40s.

Would you believe there’s a massive plant in Jackson that makes products you use every day, but never thought about? The sticky stuff on your bandages, your tape, your windows, even the stuff that keeps your toilet paper together; it’s all made at H.B. Fuller.

A few Chamber team members had the opportunity to get the full behind-the-scenes at H.B. Fuller, led by Dan Dixon, Senior Project Engineering Manager. Dan works on the major capital projects, mainly at the facility in Michigan Center. The Michigan Center facility is H.B. Fuller’s largest. At this facility, they produce adhesives and sealants that you can find in some places that may surprise you.

Wind seal used in automobiles

H.B. Fuller produces everyday products like glue, superglue, PIB (polyisobutylene), caulk, roofing primers, and more. Some brands you may recognize, like Gorilla Glue and Red Devil, contain material made right in the Michigan Center facility. Odds are, if you look in your toolbox, garage, or even your junk drawer, you’re bound to find one of these things. However, you won’t see an H.B. Fuller label during your next trip to the hardware store. They create the material that makes these products sticky or sealed. A name brand you see on the shelf takes that material and sells it under their brand.

At the Michigan Center plant, they have around 300 employees, each working in three shifts. H.B. Fuller is a global facility that’s divided into three different business units or divisions:

1. Construction adhesive (This plant can be found right in Jackson County.)

2. Engineering adhesive

3. HHC consumer products (adhesives for diapers, toilet paper, and even makeup)

When you’re buying caulk for your latest home improvement project, you’re not thinking of the process of how it got to the shelf of your local hardware store. It’s surprisingly fascinating to watch it happen.

Butyl (rubber) pellets

Caulk starts out as a butyl rubber base, which is masticated (blended to break down) in process equipment. Out of this comes what Dan called a “master batch.” This then is made into pellets and put into another mixer where powder is added. Oil is added to help break the rubber down and is mixed until it softens. Powders are used as extenders to make the batch bigger, then a solvent is added. It’s at this point that the material won’t harden until it is exposed to air. That material is then put in a quart, pint, or tube, ready to be added to your toolbox.

Liquid rubber comes out at about 420 degrees and is used for products like bandages.

Beyond the machinery and materials of it all, H.B. Fuller does more than just create. Dan explained that H.B. Fuller is always working on making eco-friendly improvements. They’re currently looking into lower VOC (volatile organic compounds) for primers and caulks. Some solvents can be bad for the atmosphere, and H.B. Fuller is looking for more ways to replace things that are harmful while increasing safety and sustainability.

H.B. fuller also participates in Earth Day cleanups, recognizes a Volunteer of the Year, and organizes food and blood drives. “It’s a pretty giving organization,” Dan stated as he explained the many ways H.B. Fuller is involved in the community. Their generosity is seen continuously through volunteer work and community involvement.

Next time you’re looking through a window, wrapping a gift, or fixing a broken toy, you can thank H.B. Fuller for turning your sticky situation into a problem solved. You can learn more about H.B. Fuller by going to their website to see community involvement, what they do, and job openings.

Serene Community, Flourishing Wildlife, and Premier Golf in Your Own Backyard

The Grande Golf Club is undoubtedly one of the premier courses Jackson County has to offer. With scenic water features, forestry, and fairways as far as the eye can see, it’s a course that stands out among the rest not only the course, but the homes that line the course are truly jaw-dropping.

Photo by: WindowStill Photography

It’s any homeowner’s dream to reside in a secluded sanctuary. Now, at the Grande Estates, you can cozy up in your luxury home and quaint community, while still just being a short drive from the grocery store or your favorite local restaurant. The Grande Estates is run by two talented real estate brokers, Shannon Jackson, and Teresa Schenk, both of which wear many hats. Teresa is the builder and developer of the estates and golf club. She is the mastermind behind each beautiful home that becomes part of the Grande Estates. Teresa is accompanied by Shannon, who shows the homes, works on events and marketing, and assists Teresa on the projects that make the Grande Estates possible.

Photo by: WindowStill Photography

The Grande Estates is an on-course community located at the Grande Golf Club that consists of custom homes. Each home is built in a different variety of modern farmhouse styles. Those styles include ranch and cape cod, each with a view-out or walk-out and daylight basements. All homes fit the same feel but are completely unique at the same time. Each home is custom built in partnership with architect of Wayne Visbeen of Visbeen Architects.

The homes built within the Grande Estates each have an indoor-outdoor feel, having large windows that allow the beautiful nature scenes of the course to come in. Along with that is an open floor plan, designed to make every home feel open and airy. Each home is complete with a first-floor master suite, two to three bedroom floor plans, basements that allow for natural light to come in, and flexible spaces for offices, bedrooms, and entertaining. Teresa is able to take what each person envisions in their home and bring it to life. She is continuously trying to hit features that clients are looking for with modern features and open kitchens and living spaces.

Photo by: WindowStill Photography

The Grande Golf Club is an 18-hole course that has been originally rated as one of the top 10 courses in the nation. Over the past year alone, there have been a million and a half dollars put into improvements. It is an expansive course with elevation changes, highly rated course play, massive wetlands, rolling hills, and water features. Renovations and improvements won’t stop there, Teresa mentioned that they have big plans for the future. “Golf brings people together,” she explained. That’s why it’s important for the Grande Estates to have a place where residents can gather and further enjoy their community. One of the existing perks of living in this community is discounted golf for residents.

Photo by: WindowStill Photography

Even with the golfers that regularly play the course and residents who live in the community, those that live or even visit the Grande Estates routinely see wildlife, including deer, otters, sandhill cranes, blue heron, and ducks. This serene course and community is secluded enough to let wildlife roam, and the trees and wetlands that surround the course feed into the wildlife they regularly see. Houses at the Grande Estates aren’t side by side, so they allow for space for wildlife to roam and privacy for its residents.

Teresa expanded on being a builder for the Grande Estates and Golf Club. She mentioned that builders have pride and attachment to what they build, and seeing visitors being in awe of what they’ve built is such a rewarding feeling. Walking into a home she’s built and worked on from start to finish, from framing to interior design, it’s hard to believe one person can create something so beautiful in such a short amount of time. It only takes about four to six months from the initial point of contract to being able to move in, based on what’s currently being built. Another piece of that is being able to purchase a lot and start a new build within a year, and clients can even bring in their own builder if they prefer.

Photo by: WindowStill Photography

Judging by the look of the existing homes at the Grande Estates, you won’t have to look far with Teresa already on the project. Shannon explained that she’s never worked with someone with the same amount of drive and passion that Teresa pours into her projects. She continued that she is constantly being inspired by Teresa, being as strong as she is in this industry. Being a female builder for as long as she has and building something so incredible has been she’s always admired. Right when they met, Shannon continued, it was as if they were in sync.

Homes at the Grande Estates start in the upper $300 thousands and go up from there and are typically sold at $480,000-$550,000. Phase one is currently being developed, with some beautiful lots still remaining. Teresa and Shannon are inviting all prospective residents to come take a look and reserve one of their own. You can contact the Grande Estates by phone, (517)921-5290, or on their website. You can also follow the Grande Estates on Facebook and Instagram, where they’re continuously posting updates on showings, models, and more.

Focus On Your Bigger Picture with T. Smith Business Consulting

It’s no secret that Jackson has seen a surge in startup and entrepreneurial culture in recent years. This new wave comes with opportunities for people who never thought they could achieve their small business dreams. It’s overwhelming to be a business owner of any kind, that’s why T. Smith Business Consulting is here, to save you time so you can focus on your bigger picture.

T. Smith Business Consulting, run by Toneka Smith, is a consulting company tailored to small business owners. Toneka supports small business owners by helping them grow, providing structure, and essentially getting their business off the ground.

Toneka has always had a passion for helping others and subsequently decided to go back to school. While studying at Jackson College, Toneka took on an internship at the Launch Pad as a business coach, helping start small businesses. With the Launch Pad being based on helping minorities, Toneka fell in love with the process of hearing other entrepreneurs’ stories and how they don’t have the resources to turn their idea into a business. Business coaching was something that was completely new to Toneka, something she had never seen before. Upon graduating, she realized she wanted to take on business coaching herself.

T. Smith Business Consulting offers social media management, social media planning, business consulting, event promotions, project management, as well as the “Build a Business” plan. These services, according to Toneka, are something all small business owners should take advantage of and are unique to helping clients build a business. Toneka has seen that social media has been the most popular service the local business owners. She also works with clients to add on services as they go, to create a plan that best suits their business; she’s done her research and has come up with strategic business plans for each service to work for each individual client.

In Jackson, it’s rare to find a business consultant who offers social media management, where you sit down one on one with a business consultant to go over trending hashtags and designing content. T. Smith Business Consultant offers just that. Toneka wanted to be her own kind of unique; other consulting firms can offer a business plan, but a lot of it is based on a much bigger scale. She offers more of a personal service that tailors exactly to what the client’s business is.

Toneka firmly believes every small business owner has a need for a consultant. From project management to event promotion, T. Smith Business Consultant can handle it all. She explains that it’s easy to hire a big event planner, but they can’t offer the same opinion as someone who is looking through the eyes of a small business owner. There are plenty of benefits to hiring an independent consultant, vs. the big-name company that doesn’t know your business through and through.

Toneka credits her early success to a few things. First, rather than sitting behind a desk, Toneka is constantly bettering her business by being involved in local nonprofits and participating in Chamber events. Second, Toneka is a very active patron of Lean Rocket Lab, which she excitedly shared was a huge resource to her when it came to starting her business. It’s become a home away from home and the perfect place to meet great, entrepreneurial minds alike. A piece of advice Toneka shared was that her favorite Chamber event is Live at the Lab because it’s the perfect setting for members and nonmembers to introduce themselves in a laid-back setting.

Photo Credit: Loveland Farms Photography

Finally, working with her business mentor, another Chamber member, Felicia Carter from Shortie’s Sweets, Eats, & Treats, who she met through the Launch Pad. She explained that it’s great to have someone similar to her who she can bounce ideas off and brainstorm with. Having a mentor like Felicia has been great for someone who is an independent business owner, like Toneka.

Toneka primarily works through her Facebook page for bookings. She also is available by email at and by phone at (734)210-0218. She prides herself on her quick response time; she’ll even answer a quick Facebook message, as she likes to make each experience with clients and potential clients personal. Toneka is local to Jackson, the best networker your business will find, and ready to work with you.

T. Smith Business Consultant’s Chamber membership is made possible by the help of Monster Motors. Monster Motors has said time and time again that they see so much value in being able to work one on one and support the small business owners in the community.

County National Bank is More Than a Bank

A bank is something every person is familiar with. You stop by the ATM on your way home from work. You call them when there’s a problem with your card. You set up a savings account for your future. County National Bank (CNB) does so much more than a traditional banking institution. Celebrating its 88th birthday, CNB proudly serves small businesses and corporate offices alike. Headquartered in Hillsdale, CNB has opened twelve branches over the past 88 years and plans to open their thirteenth on Spring Arbor Road very soon.

Melissa Stroede has been with CNB since 2002. She is the definition of “moving up the ladder.” Starting out as a teller in college, Melissa is now the VP of Treasury Management and has 20 years of banking experience. This department is newer, starting in 2017, and covers all business banking needs; from business online banking to fraud prevention, Treasury Management can be beneficial to your local mom and pop to a worldwide corporation.

CNB sets itself apart from your big-name commercial banks. The difference between CNB’s philosophy and that of commercial banking is not only on the deposit side but also the lending side. Melissa explained, “We strive to make sure that business wants for nothing when it comes to a banking relationship.” With that, CNB is able to cover commercial loans and deposits, talk to owners about their investments, and even help with 401Ks and retirement plans. Melissa further said that it’s more than just an account number with CNB, they’ll offer anything a business owner needs guidance with financially.

Banking locally, especially for businesses, has countless benefits. CNB has seen tremendous growth in Jackson’s market, and still has flexibility when it comes to loan approval because of community bank philosophy. They’re able to consider the individual business and work to make a financing plan that suits their needs. Whether you’re a small business ready to expand or a large corporation needing increased line of credit, CNB works to accommodate the individual business.

For a small business, there’s a lot of value in banking with a local institution, simply based on the fact that they know your area and can offer local decision making. They have the ability to think outside the box, rather than just go through the motions of creating an account for you. Melissa shared that being able to see a small business grow firsthand is the most fulfilling thing for CNB to see. Utilizing CNB and having someone on your team that’s also local can be a huge benefit because they live and work here too. If you have a small business, CNB has a huge portfolio of loan types they can help with. There’s rarely something they can’t do, no matter the size.

On the deposit side, CNB also works differently than your typical commercial bank. Commercial banks often charge clients a fee per transaction. CNB has a hard monthly charge that is a fraction of what other commercial banks charge for services. They’ve found ways to build a better, stronger business, without charging additional fees to your local shops, restaurants, and businesses. Therefore, businesses’ relationship with CNB can be focused on strictly helping their business, rather than sweating over the small fees.

CNB also assists with wealth management. For a long time, CNB has had a wealth management department, which specializes in business banking. CNB has a great team of financial advisors local to Jackson, and just like they personalize banking, they give that extra, personalized effort to manage the wealth of their clients. To have one business owner have one holistic relationship with one bank can be huge, and there’s not a lot that CNB can’t handle when it comes to business owners big and small managing their finances.

Aside from being different than commercial banks, CNB is so much more than a place to deposit a check. Melissa took the time to explain CNB’s deep commitment to the Jackson community. All employees serve on boards, volunteer for local nonprofits, and more. Their work culture is based highly on community involvement. Their involvement translates to the events they sponsor; they choose sponsorships very specific to community needs. For example, CNB is the presenting sponsor of the Art, Beer, and Wine Festival, because they find huge value in helping sustain the Ella Sharp Museum. It gives them the opportunity to be really involved in big, local events.

“What’s cool,” Melissa continues, “is hearing CNB mentioned on JTV or the radio.” Everything they do is local, so it’s easy to be involved on a local board. People who work at CNB are local and are involved in the community organizations and are visible to those in the community. Visibility is what sets them apart, and it’s something they pride themselves on. Melissa shared that John Waldren, President of CNB, doesn’t want to see the employees in their offices. He expects them to be out, involved in the community.

When asked “What one thing you want the people of Jackson to know?” Melissa said “We were there during the pandemic. Flexible and quick with implementing loans, and I firmly believe that we saved some small businesses.” Melissa then went on to say that CNB doesn’t do what they do for accolades, they do it because they care. From commercial business owners to small businesses downtown, County National Bank is highly committed to Jackson and the people and businesses who call this home.

The Chamber and Experience Jackson: How Are They Different?

Have you ever stopped by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, or maybe Experience Jackson? If you have, you ended up in the same office. What comes as a surprise to most, however, is that the Chamber and Experience Jackson are two completely separate entities. This can be confusing, given that some of the team members overlap and each organization collaborates on some of the same projects. However, even with their similarities and overlap, the Chamber and Experience Jackson offer two entirely different purposes to Jackson.

Rachel Buchanan, Marketing & Development Director of Experience Jackson, described the two the following way: The Chamber is here to equip and grow your business and grow your professional connections. Experience Jackson is meant to attract people to those businesses.

The Chamber puts on events meant for networking and growing your business. It also provides business resources, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, legislatives support, and leadership development to its members. The Chamber is member-based, whereas Experience Jackson focuses more on the promotion of all local attractions.

Experience Jackson draws people to the community by promoting what Jackson County has to offer. They do so by sponsoring events or highlighting local restaurants and attractions to those that may not be familiar with the area.

Experience Jackson enjoys taking a hands-on approach when sponsoring and promoting local events, rather than just being a recognizable brand. Playing a role in the growth of Jackson is a large part of their mission, and they love seeing just how many visitors come to explore events like Bright Walls, Museum Day, Gus Macker Tournament, downtown events, and many more. The organization develops deep relationships with tourism locations and offers support where needed, to make sure new faces and returning visitors have plenty of reasons to return.

Photo Courtesy of JTV

Outside of event promotion, Experience Jackson also works closely with the local hotels and can set visitors up with hotel blocks, private meeting spaces, or recommend beautiful local venues to host your next event. Experience Jackson also offers golf packages to help bring visitors from all across the Midwest to Jackson’s award-winning courses. Golf is just one thing Experience Jackson focuses on throughout the year, they also push campaigns for fishing, hiking, festivals, food and beverage, and more. Maybe you’re simply wondering how you can fill your weekend plans? Experience Jackson sends out monthly newsletters and weekly updates about local events and happenings. Sign up here.

Experience Jackson specializes in staying involved with the community by investing in the Chamber. Since the Chamber is naturally recognized as a huge professional asset to the community, Experience Jackson takes advantage of its partnership by taking the opportunity to network with other members at Chamber events. By doing so, this opens the door to new partnerships and chances to continue to help bring people to those local businesses.

A must-visit destination is made by having healthy businesses. Therefore, Experience Jackson plays a role in helping those businesses thrive and keep the community vibrant by continuing to highlight them on their social media pages, blog, in publications, and their website. Say you have a friend from out of the area staying for the weekend and you want to plan a visit full of local eats, one-of-a-kind entertainment, and unique nightlife, look no further than

Photo Courtesy of JTV

There are plenty of ways that Experience Jackson makes the most of their Chamber membership. Experience Jackson loves being a part of is the MLK Diversity Celebration. Not only did Experience Jackson help sponsor, but the team also helped promote professionally and did some assisting behind the scenes. Experience Jackson is also excited to be the presenting sponsor of Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement, put on by the Chamber. If you kept tabs on Community Awards Week, you may have noticed that the Omotenashi Award was also sponsored by Experience Jackson.

Experience Jackson has a Community Champion-Level Membership, which means that they proudly sponsor a few Chamber memberships as well and bring that opportunity to a business that may be just getting started or needs some financial assistance to get their foot in the door and their name out into the community.

The Chamber is proud to have an organization dedicated to the growth of Jackson’s tourism, and to have it “in-house” at the Chamber makes the team feel especially lucky. To learn more about what Experience Jackson does for the community, click here.

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134 W Michigan Ave.
Jackson, MI 49201

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