In 2022, the division continued to create programming and offer services driven, in part, by the findings of the 2021 Genesee County Business Landscape Survey. Specifically, the study had found that 59% of small businesses in Genesee County were led by someone who is Black, Indigenous, and/or a person of color (BIPOC), and just over half of these businesses were in their first five years of operation. Considering that 67% of BIPOC-owned businesses cease operations before their sixth year of business in Genesee County, support for these businesses is especially critical.
To address barriers to success for these businesses, the Economic Alliance contracted with I’m Building Something Consulting, LLC to help create an online directory of BIPOC-owned businesses. The Flint & Genesee Business Bridge, located at DevelopFlintandGenesee.org, aims to serve the interests of prospective vendors and clients/consumers alike.
With grant support from the Ruth Mott Foundation, the Flint & Genesee Business Bridge directory launched with an official kick-off event at New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church in Flint. There, attendees heard from local business owners, attended panel discussions covering business certifications and resources available to minority-owned businesses in Flint & Genesee, and presented their products and services to more than a dozen different buyers.
Additionally, of the 15 grants awarded through the Moving Flint Forward Grant (MFF) program funded by General Motors, 13 were awarded to minority-owned small businesses to support business growth and community engagement. In addition to providing financial support, the program also supported building business capacity by providing one-on-one counseling, connections to other small business resources, and help with implementing grant-focused activities.
Looking at the broader landscape of small business in Flint & Genesee, the Small Business Help Desk continued to offer support services to area entrepreneurs and startups by meeting with 271 unique small businesses in 2022. The division also partnered with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Flint to help six local businesses successfully secure a collective $48,000 in zero-interest loans through the crowdfunding platform Kiva.