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Rows of clothing on hangers with a blue overlay

Meet Vickie Brennan, Our January “Get Caught” Recipient

We are challenging community members to “Get Caught” moving Battle Creek forward through job creation and training; talent development; and community vitalization.

Read on to learn more about our January “Get Caught” recipient, Vickie Brennan.

Meet Vickie

Vickie Brennan is known across Battle Creek as an adoptive mother and grandmother because she welcomes everyone with a hug and smile.

In 2015, Vickie saw a need to help out her community overcome the struggles of poverty. She started a Facebook page called “The Help and Hope Closet” and posted that she would take donations of unwanted and gently used items.

A Culture of Vitality

With a community that was in need of these items, it did not take long for the donations to begin to show up on her doorstep. In fact, there were so many donations that Vickie had to reach out to a friend to help her sort through items! As soon as items were sorted, Vickie let her Facebook followers know she was ready to help them and the response from the community was overwhelming.

Vickie says she loves contributing to the community and, “…watching all the families leave the closet with a bag full of the things they need and all the happy kids with their new toys.”

By creating an environment that not only offers a place of hope but also access to the things families need, Vickie has created a culture of vitality in Battle Creek by keeping our community a place where families can live, work, and play.

Keeping the Momentum Going

Vickie continues to accept donations and people into her home to help them find the items they need. Want to help her keep the momentum going? Check out her Facebook page.

The Best Part

Vickie shares that her favorite thing about Battle Creek is the community, “I love watching everyone come together to help each other out”.

Vickie shares that she started the closet with no need or want for recognition; however, she is happy that word has spread about the closet so that more people hear about it as a resource and she can help more people.

We thank Vickie for creating a culture of vitality in Battle Creek and for “Getting Caught” doing amazing things for the Battle Creek Community.

 

Do you know someone who is helping move our community forward? Read here to learn more about how to nominate someone today!

And, make sure to read about our past “Get Caught” recipients: Javier Fortoso and Coach Casey.

A section pulled from the PDF about the 2018 Year in Review, accompanied by a blue overlay

2018 Year in Review

Thanks to our incredible community, many partners, and donors, 2018 was a great year moving Battle Creek forward to serve as a place where everyone can live, work, and play. A thriving community where there is equitable opportunity for income, education, and resources for all takes collaboration and hard work.

This community-driven work focuses on the following areas:

  • College and Career Readiness
  • Kindergarten Readiness
  • Culture of Vitality
  • Large Business
  • Small Business
  • Workforce Development

To see all of the programs, initiatives, partnerships, events, and more, that happened in 2018, click here to view a PDF of our year in review. 

Get Caught Doing Great Work: Javier Fortoso

Meet Javier Fortoso

We are challenging community members to “Get Caught” moving Battle Creek forward through job creation and training; talent development; and community vitalization.

Read on to learn more about a past recipient, Javier Fortoso.

Meet Javier

Javier’s journey began when he was a child living in Cuernavaca, Mexico. He worked in restaurants while growing up and liked the adrenaline rush of being busy. “Some people don’t like it,” says Javier. “They get upset, frustrated and stressed out, but I’ve always liked it.”

When Javier came to Battle Creek he helped move us forward by opening Torti Taco and now most people know him as Mr. Torti Taco.

Many of Torti Taco’s menu items are a culmination of lifetime experiences while living in New York, San Diego, and of course, Mexico. Many of his recipes are family-tested including his proprietary salsas and the award-winning suadero taco.

A Culture of Vitality

Shortly after opening, Javier took advantage of a mentorship program started by the BCVision Small Business Action Team and coordinated by Generation E’s Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE) of Southwest Michigan. The mentorship program gave Javier the added business knowledge and access to networking opportunities that he didn’t have before.

“I didn’t know help was available. I didn’t know anyone. I had done my research, but there was a lot I didn’t know,” said Javier.

By Javier starting a small business in Battle Creek, Torti Taco provides jobs and stability for his workers while also contributing to our local economy. 

Keeping the Momentum Going

This summer, Javier and his restaurant crew won first place at the Taco Showdown at Eastern Market in Detroit and a second first prize at Kalamazoo’s Taco’s and Tequila Fest. The news of the restaurant winning both contests has brought people in from Lansing, Kalamazoo, and as far away as Grand Rapids to sample Torti Taco’s food. The public awareness gained from the award are bringing new visitors to Battle Creek.

The Best Part

“I like everything about Battle Creek,” he says. “The people and the community are so supportive.” Since opening, the restaurant has been a catered favorite for the City of Battle Creek, Kellogg Community College Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and BCVision.

Javier says “It’s the people I enjoy. For example, I went to the store the other day and someone said, ‘Hey, Mr. Torti!’ I meet so many people, it’s a challenge to remember who everyone is. It’s a good feeling.”

We thank Javier for creating a culture of vitality in Battle Creek and for “Getting Caught” doing amazing things for the Battle Creek Community.

 

Do you know someone who is helping move our community forward? Nominate them today by emailing support@battlecreekvision.com

Get Caught Doing Great Work: Coach Casey

Meet Coach Casey

We are challenging community members to “Get Caught” moving Battle Creek forward through job creation and training; talent development; and community vitalization.

Read on to learn more about a past recipient, Casey Bess.

Meet Casey

You probably know Casey better with the word “Coach” in front of his name. Coach Casey is a teacher and the football coach at Battle Creek Central High School who started a new tradition with his team. 

The Tuesday Tradition

After one practice Coach Casey said that he was hungry, and his player John replied, “Me too, Coach”. So, Coach and John went down to Clara’s; from that one dinner, around 6 players joined in on the Tuesday Tradition.

Coach Casey seats his students in the center of Clara’s so that the public can see what great players he has, and so that the players can gain experience in a nice restaurant in a public setting.

Keeping the Tradition Going

As more students wanted to join in on the team dinners, Casey admits funds stretched a little bit. “I was already shoveling money into a box just to pay for John.” Casey reached out on Facebook, asking if there was an interest to sponsor the student athletes. He was surprised at those who wanted to support his students.

“Two of my longest friends, guys that I went to school in BCPS K-12 with that now live in Washington DC and Chicago, both messaged me and said they wanted to sponsor a kid each week. To me that is so cool! These are 32-year-old men that are in big jobs, in big cities, starting families, and they are worried about helping us in Battle Creek.”

Casey averages about $25 per student to cover the cost of the meal and tip.

The Best Part

Coach Casey’s favorite part of the meals? “I love to hear about their dreams and what they want to do. I get to hear their struggles! They get to hear mine! It reaches beyond athletics and my job as their teacher and coach. I’m trying to help raise productive men!”

We applaud Casey, his football team, and the sponsors of this awesome tradition for “Getting Caught” doing amazing things for the Battle Creek Community.

Do you know someone who is helping move our community forward? Nominate them today by emailing support@battlecreekvision.com

Get Caught Doing Great Work in Battle Creek

Get Caught Moving Battle Creek Forward

We are excited to share our “Get Caught” campaign, that recognizes and honor individuals who are positively impacting Battle Creek.

This movement is driven by you!

We want you to nominate someone who is working to make a difference in one of the categories below. It could be someone who is improving students’ career readiness, creating local jobs, supporting Battle Creek businesses, or supporting healthy lifestyles.

BCVision is now actively seeking submissions for the campaign.

Check out the categories below; do you know someone who is doing great work and should be recognized? Individuals selected for the campaign will receive a free lunch and their unique story will be featured on the BCVision Facebook page!

Jobs

Do you know someone who is working to increase the number of jobs or providing job training so people are prepared for work? Or, do you know someone who is investing in their employees to create a better work environment?

Talent Development

Do you know someone who is working to improve kindergarten readiness, or increase college and career readiness for all students?

Community Vitalization

Do you know someone who is working to create a community that supports job growth and talent development so Battle Creek is a place where people choose to live, work, and play?

To nominate someone who is moving Battle Creek forward in one of the ways outlined above, submit nominations to support@battlecreekvision.com. Please be sure to include a brief description along with your nominee’s name. We will be sharing these stories on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Be sure to follow along with these amazing stories in our community with the hashtag: #getcaught!

Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund

Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund: Keeping Up Momentum

This past June, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) founded the Battle Creek Small Business Fund Loan, and we have been extremely excited to see local community leaders, Battle Creek residents, and business owners rallying around this important initiative. To date, more than $6.4 million has been contributed to the fund, but with a goal of $10 million, it is important to keep the momentum going.

Since the June launch of the fund, three business loans have been closed and more than twenty local businesses have submitted loan applications. Northern Initiatives, a 25-year-old community development institution that is managing the fund, has opened its downtown Battle Creek office at Two West Michigan Ave and is continuing to work with interested business owners and entrepreneurs.

Small businesses are essential for the vitality of local communities across the nation. It is important that local partners in Battle Creek come together to support new start-ups and ongoing businesses with loans, business coaches, and other needed resources for success.

This fund is helping those with an entrepreneurial spirit realize their dreams, and in turn, positively impact Battle Creek.

Those who contribute to the Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund will be directly investing in our city’s economic vibrancy and in our community’s future.

To learn how you can invest in entrepreneurship, contact Terri Govern with Northern Initiatives at tgovern@northerninitiatives.org or Andrew Brower, program-related investment officer at the Kellogg Foundation at Andrew.brower@wkkf.org.

 

 

Battle Creek’s Dedication to Small Business

Through extensive research, and listening to those who live and work in Battle Creek, it is clear that creating quality jobs and small business development are top priorities for our community.

Understanding that new and growing businesses need access to capital in order to thrive, the community-wide $10 million Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund was established by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) this past summer.

Starting with a $1 million kickoff investment, and major contributions from the Kellogg Company, Battle Creek Unlimited and The Miller Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation has committed to matching local investments 2:1.

This fund is available to members of the Battle Creek community, or those who are looking to open a business in Battle Creek. To date, $6.4 million has been contributed, meaning the fund is well on its way to reach the $10 million goal.

Local investors are the lifeblood of this fund, and those who are willing to support this initiative will be helping to contribute to a brighter and more prosperous economic future for Battle Creek.

Small businesses not only bring about great pride in local communities, but they provide jobs and opportunities for people to achieve financial success and independence.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently estimated that three in five new jobs in the United States are created by small businesses, and that small businesses accounted for 61.8 percent of net new jobs from the first quarter of 1993 until the third quarter of 2016.

We encourage entrepreneurs and those who are considering opening a new small business in Battle Creek to explore the opportunities that are now available because of this generous fund.

We are proud to live in a city where community leaders foster and accelerate the growth of new businesses. Together we can ensure that all children and families thrive in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek is open for business, and we can’t wait to see how this fund will positively impact our community as a whole.

If you are interested in investing, please contact Terri Govern at tgovern@northerninitiatives.org or (906 226-1670). Kellie Hoffman is the local loan officer working with interested business owners and entrepreneurs and can be reached at 269-224-6940.