Couple’s legacy will help budding entrepreneurs
For Camron and Lisa Gnass of Dimondale, a sense of place is vital.
As the owner and creative director of Traction, a marketing agency based in downtown Lansing, Camron strives to help Greater Lansing attract talent. “Why would I ask someone else to come here if I wasn’t willing to stay here myself?”
Camron says when he started his business, Lansing didn’t offer the kinds of things he wanted to have in a city, “But now I can say we’ve got as many resources and natural assets as I want right here — well, except a mountain.”In recent years, Camron has been involved in the creation and growth of popular events such as the Capital City Film Festival, Frost Fest, the Lansing Live music series and TEDx Lansing.
His wife, Lisa, who recently ended a three-year stay as executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan, said when she moved here from the Detroit area to attend Michigan State University, it never occurred to her she might stay for good.
“I got a job working for the state right after college, and it was two years before it finally hit me that I actually like it here.”
The Gnasses have been together since college and now live in Dimondale with their three children.
Beyond creating and participating in a variety of events and activities in Greater Lansing, the Gnasses wanted to leave a legacy for their community — one that would last forever.
Part of their estate is designated to create an endowment fund at the Capital Region Community Foundation where it will provide grants for entrepreneurial assistance. By making this designation, the Gnasses became inaugural members of the Community Foundation's Legacy Society.
“When I started my business 16 years ago, the entrepreneurial climate was nonexistent,” Camron said. “There weren’t the programs that exist now. I could have done a better job, faster with the assets that exist right now. So, if in 50 or 100 years, some person — young or old — is interested in starting a business, if somehow I can help them jump-start that experience or provide that last little bridge, it’s going to build a better community, a better destination people want to come to, build a better place for their family and help them do something that’s going to make them happy to do what they do every day, like I do? The best way I can be a part of that is to leave a legacy.”
“He’s said dozens of times, ‘If someone had told me that, or if I knew that, I’d be two years further along than I am now,’ ” Lisa said. “So the idea of being able to give someone assistance so they can move ahead is so valuable.”
“Sometimes we just have to give to our community to make it a better place,” Camron recently told their 10-year-old daughter as he left to volunteer for an event. “We're going to expect you to do this to make your community better too. We're doing this for you. We do it to give back, not because we have to.”
Members of the Capital Region Community Foundation’s Legacy Society have planned a future gift through a bequest, trust, life insurance, charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder or lead trust. We are deeply grateful to each of them for their lasting gift to the Community Foundation and our community.
Interested in joining the Legacy Society? Call the Community Foundation at (517)272-2870 to find out how to become a member.