Ensuring that all businesses have access to resources, opportunities



In September, the Flint & Genesee Group’s Economic Alliance division will kick off the first of a new monthly training series designed to strengthen local minority owned businesses.

The workshops – which will cover everything from branding to government contracting – build on the momentum of our digital business directory that launched last year to connect buyers with small businesses in Flint & Genesee.

Called the Flint & Genesee Business Bridge, this directory is open to local small businesses, with marketing efforts focusing on including businesses owned by individuals who are Black, Indigenous and/or a person of color (BIPOC). That’s because BIPOC-owned businesses represent a significant and important part of our business community.

Two years ago, the Economic Alliance conducted an analysis that found that 59 percent of small businesses in Genesee County are led by someone who is BIPOC. Just over half of these businesses are in their first five years of operation. Considering that, in Genesee County, 67 percent of BIPOC-owned business cease operations before their sixth year, support for these businesses is especially critical.

Today, a goal behind many of our efforts is to provide a strong foundation for these businesses. We do this through providing the types of resources, training, and support that are especially important in the first few years of operation. For instance, the latest round Moving Flint Forward, a grant program administered by the Economic Alliance and funded by General Motors, provides funding and technical support to 23 different small businesses in Flint – most of which are minority owned.

There’s also the Flint & Genesee Chamber’s African American Advisory Committee, which relaunched in 2022 and serves as the liaison between the region’s growing African American business community and the Flint & Genesee Chamber. The committee identifies vital resources for business owners, supports economic development, and fosters strong community partnerships.

It’s because of these efforts and others that our organization is in the running for Ragan’s 2023 CSR & Diversity Awards. Specifically, the Group is one of 12 finalists in the category of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitment for our work in promoting, supporting, and fostering diversity as part of its corporate culture.

While winners won’t be announced until late September, it’s exciting to know that we’re competing against the likes of Mastercard, Vera Bradley, and Mars Food. Being recognized as a finalist puts the work we’re doing on a national stage and serves as a testament to our commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable Flint & Genesee.

Contributing to greater economic prosperity in Flint & Genesee is at the heart of what we do at the Flint & Genesee Group, and it’s something that can only be accomplished with intentionality. By ensuring that all businesses have the resources they need to become self-sustaining and profitable in the long-term, we lay the foundation for not only individual success but also the overall growth and vitality of our community.

Tim Herman is the chief executive officer of the Flint & Genesee Group.

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