In 2015, the Traverse City Area Chamber Foundation and the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation merged into Venture North Funding & Development and named Laura the Executive Director.
Laura manages six separate loan funds across a 10-county region with total assets of more than $7 million. It has funded over $4 million, assisting 70+ businesses throughout the region with expansions, equipment and inventory purchases, working capital and related needs.
Laura has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s in business administration from Lawrence Technological University. Laura served on the Traverse Area Human Resource Association Board of Directors for five years.
She currently serves on the following boards and committees: TART Trails, Shape Up North Advisory Council and Economic Development Foundation Loan Committee. Laura and her husband, John, have three children.
Sara Christensen joined the Venture North team in 2017 as Portfolio Administrator, where she is responsible for managing the flow of information between Venture North clients and loan applicants, underwriting and loan committees, and she provides administrative support to President Laura Galbraith.
She is an experienced professional in community and economic development in the region. Having served as the Community Development Director for Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, a four-county region in Northwest Lower Michigan, where she worked for nine years.
Sara is also a certified and experienced CDBG Grant Administrator through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Sara earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s from Spring Arbor University, both in education.
Steve Brower is an experienced business banker and financial analyst who has also been an important community volunteer, having served on numerous boards and committees including his current tenure on three boards: Manistee County Community Foundation, Industrial Development Corporation of Manistee and the Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee.
Steve is assisting Venture North in customer relations, including reviewing the plans and forecasts of businesses in need of business capital, origination loans and helping our customers take proactive steps to address both opportunities or concerns.
Steve graduated from Ferris State University with a major in Business Administration and minor in Accounting and from banking programs at the University of Oklahoma and University of Wisconsin.
Technical Assistance Coordinator
Betsy Evans is a native of northwest Michigan committed to developing thriving and healthy communities. She owns a security business with her husband and also provides business consulting services.
Betsy serves as the Chair of the Grow Benzie Board, the Benzie County Economic Development Business Retention Committee and the Joyfield Township Planning Commission. She is also a member of the Benzie County Local College Access Network Leadership Team and formerly served on the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center as well as Paul Oliver Hospital Boards.
Betsy holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Engineering and Biology from Michigan Technological University, lives in Benzie County with her husband Jim and has three adult sons.
Business Development Manager
Before joining Venture North in October of 2021, Olds served as Regional Director of the Northwest Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a program of Networks Northwest. Among her personal accomplishments consulting are: securing nearly $17 million in capital for businesses; helping start over 50 small businesses; helping to create over 250 new jobs while retaining nearly 165 jobs; assisting over 150 small businesses; and providing counsel and assistance to over 570 small businesses.
Annie has a Master’s Degree in Strategic Management and Bachelor’s Degree in Management, specializing in small business management, both from Davenport University. She is a longtime resident of Kalkaska and formerly served as President, Kalkaska Area Chamber of Commerce.
When she's not helping local businesses, she and her husband enjoy camping in their vintage camper and - in their spare time - running a 126-acre farm specializing in custom grown beef and pork.