Fostering Success for Black-Owned Businesses

By Stefanie Pohl August 3, 2023

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Black-owned businesses across Michigan have an enormous impact on the state’s economy. In Michigan, the MEDC is committed to providing the support, resources and opportunities they need to grow and thrive.

Increasing Access to Capital

In May 2022, Governor Whitmer joined the MEDC to announce that Michigan was approved for up to $236,990,950 in State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Michigan was among the first five states to be approved for funding through this round of SSBCI 2.0 awards, which are intended to increase access to capital and promote entrepreneurship. Lenders interested in supporting borrowers through the collateral support and loan participation program may contact MEDC Capital Access immediately related to those programs.

In January 2022, the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved the SSBCI Michigan Business Growth Fund 2.0 programs and guidelines to access a minimum of $215.7 million in federal funding allocated to Michigan in 2021 through an American Recovery Plan allocation. SSBCI 2.0 is designed to increase the availability of capital to small businesses through loans and equity investments that would otherwise not be available in the market through conventional terms. The program requires partnership with private sector lenders, equity investors, and technical assistance providers.

Michigan’s SSBCI 2.0 programs include new requirements for support to small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) and to very small businesses, defined as businesses having 10 employees or less, to continue to ensure equity in access to capital for businesses across the state. In addition to continuing to support manufacturing and adding an emphasis on SEDI and small business lending, the programs will now offer support for early-stage funding and technical assistance programming.

Secrets to Success with MEDC Support

The MEDC is recognizing Black-owned businesses that have found success through taking part in MEDC’s programs and initiatives, from PMBC and SmartZones to the SBDC. These businesses are making the world safer, greener and more delicious.

Austin Logistics

Austin Hill began Detroit-based Austin Logistics in 2018 when he was 18 years old. Becoming an entrepreneur was something Hill knew he wanted for himself, his family and his community, but he wasn’t sure where to begin. After learning about government contracting from a podcast, which broke down the industry into easy-to-understand concepts, Hill was inspired to start a business. As owner and CEO of Austin Logistics, Hill works with his younger brother, Khristopher, who serves as chief of operations for the company.

In partnership with PMBC, the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce held the Southfield Sourcing Summit in October 2021; the local supplier event provided Southfield Area businesses with an opportunity to meet with purchasing organizations to discuss procurement needs. Through attending the Southfield Sourcing Summit, Austin Logistics secured three contracts with the City of Southfield.

Those first contracts eventually led to the contracts Austin Logistics secured with the Department of the U.S. Army and the City of Detroit. From this fateful introduction, the company has only continued to grow. Today, Austin Logistics now has 30 contracts, working with agencies in Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. Comcast, the State of Louisiana and the National Park Service are among their clients.

Daddy’s Dough

With the support of his family and community resources, Daddy’s Dough Founder MarcQus Wright’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to launch a successful West Michigan cookie business. Not your regular cookie shop, Daddy’s Dough products are infused with tasty, sweet flavors, like peanut butter, butterscotch, toffee, pecans and candy pieces.

At first, business flourished at Daddy’s Dough, but like countless small businesses in Michigan, the global pandemic caused massive challenges in growth and development. MarcQus knew the pandemic would disrupt his monthly income and operations.

Receiving information and guidance from professionals on the MEDC’s PMBC team, MarcQus applied for — and received — $10,000 from the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and $10,000 from Kent County.

The Poke Bowl

The Poke Bowl owners hail Jeron Dotson and Justin Bush from Flint, Michigan, and, when on a trip to Venice Beach, California, they visited a “hole in a wall spot” that served poke. It was there that both Jeron and Justin discovered the concept of a poke bowl restaurant and left the West Coast to bring the flavorful dish back to their hometown in the Midwest.

The Heart of Michigan’s Economy

Much of the state’s economic recovery can be attributed to Michigan’s small business growth over the past two years. According to Opportunity Insight’s Track the Recovery, January 2022 saw small business revenue in Michigan increase by 24% compared to January 2020, while the nation experienced a 6.9% increase over the same period. Michigan also had the fastest small business job growth in 23 years according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information, adding 170,000 in the first three quarters of 2021 – 59% more than in 2019.

Despite the many barriers that historically marginalized entrepreneurs face, small businesses in underserved communities continue to contribute a significant portion to Michigan’s economy and often act as the economic lifeblood to the local community.

Building a path to success for minority and underrepresented small businesses will remain an imperative aspect of small business programming at the MEDC in order to create a stronger, more equitable Michigan.