Yet, amid the persistence of the pandemic, talent shortages, supply chain disruptions, inflation – among other issues – our team pushed forward, proved their resilience, and had significant accomplishments.
We stayed focused on innovation and continued to do what it took to keep the economic engine going in Flint & Genesee. Our team provided programs and services that helped local businesses mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and recover in a variety of ways, including talent support, business coaching and grants. Throughout the year, the Group awarded nearly $1.7 million in grants to Genesee County businesses. We also closed seven business development projects that resulted in nearly $123 million of private investment and created 773 jobs. Over 2,200 Flint students received YouthQuest programming, both virtually and in-person and 218 students were hired for summer jobs through Summer Youth Initiative and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. We assisted our hospitality partners in traditional and non-traditional ways, and despite the starts and stops in travel, our team booked contracts for over 5,600 room nights.
We also took on a major initiative to rebrand the organization from the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce to Flint & Genesee Group, now marketing our programs and services through four divisions as we work to achieve greater economic prosperity and quality of life in Genesee County. Not only did we gain a new name, identity and a more clearly defined organization structure, the rebrand helps us communicate with our audiences more effectively – who we are, our breadth of services and how to connect with the appropriate arm of the organization. As part of this initiative, we also restructured our boards to better align with the new branding and ensure board and organizational effectiveness.
A key priority for the Group is to have a positive, inclusive and productive culture. To help us achieve this, we sharpened our focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in 2021.
Internally, we underwent a third-party assessment of our processes and practices to give us a baseline on our strengths and where there is room for improvement. Through a collaborative process – that included our employees – we developed our DEI Statement, which serves as the foundation of our organization’s commitment and aligns with our values. We also assembled a group of leaders to form a DEI Committee. They are responsible for driving the work, including developing an action plan that outlines our goals and objectives, and how we plan to achieve them in a meaningful and measurable way. These strategic activities took place among many other efforts.
Externally, to help address some of the racial inequities in our region, we actively participated in the Greater Flint Task Force on Racial Inequities with community and civic leaders, and I chair the Business, Banking and Workforce Development Subcommittee. This forum allows us to help build relationships and bring equitable access to financial capital, business grants, business support services and financial instruments to minority owners and entrepreneurs. In addition, we stood with other businesses on business and social issues; and, we supported our African American Advisory Committee as they refined their mission and developed an agenda to support the growth of Black-owned businesses in Genesee County.
In all, 2021 was a good year. While navigating the uncertainty driven by the pandemic and addressing the needs of our customers, we reinvented our organization, which has allowed us to reset our culture, our way of working, the services we provide and our future. We have an excellent team here at the Flint & Genesee Group and we are excited about the opportunities ahead.
I encourage you to read this Report to learn more details about what the teams have accomplished to keep the momentum going in Flint & Genesee.
On behalf of our staff and Board of Directors, we thank our members and clients for your ongoing support and look forward to our continued partnership.