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13 On Your Side of Town: Meet the Ada business owner making a difference in his community

Matt Michiels chose to open his brewery in Ada, which has become a staple in the town. Now, he's giving back to his community.

ADA, Mich. — This week, 13 ON YOUR SIDE of Town is celebrating Ada. We are kicking off our coverage by highlighting someone who makes a difference with his business every day.

Matt Michiels opened Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery 10 years ago, and it's been a staple in Ada ever since.

"I chose Ada mainly because I wanted to be a part of a small community. I grew up in a small Michigan town where my dad was the pharmacist and he was somebody in the community who really made a difference," Michiels said. "For me when I started my own small business, I wanted to be a part of the community. I didn't want to be just a tax ID for some bigger town." 

One way he's done that: Several family friendly festivals that bring the community together and draw visitors. One example is the Ada Chili and Beer Festival in partnership with the Community Church in Ada.

"Matt has been one of our biggest partners since the beginning," said Dr. Rev. Mara Norden, pastor of Community Church. "He's there starting at four in the morning every year, helping us build that wonderful event for the community."

"It really has become an amazing festival. It's got the beer, it's got the chili, but it's a beer event that's family friendly," said Michiels. "That's with all of the events here in Ada, the way that we've designed them—they're not just beer festivals, they're community events, they're intended to be for the families and the entire community, and just help bring people together."

Norden and Michiels serve on the board of the Ada Business Association, where they work together to create a friendly culture in Ada.

"Together we're kind of setting a vision for the culture in Ada that's inclusive and welcoming, and where people can show up as who they are, and be supportive of one another, and building that authenticity where Ada is a great place to be," Norden said.

"I could not have decided to open a business in a better community," said Michiels.

He said many changes and updates are coming to Ada, and that West Michiganders should stay tuned for new events in their small town.

Stay with 13 ON YOUR SIDE as we continue our special coverage of Ada this week. 


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