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Detroit Means Business hosts inaugural Small Business Summit, provides tangible takeaways to support city’s small business owners and entrepreneurs

May 3, 2022

  • $20,000 in grants awarded onsite by Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA) and Detroit Means Business (DMB) as part of the Business Impact Grant Program; additional $25,000 awarded by Black Leaders Detroit
  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs provided access to panels, workshops and one-on-one expert consultations
  • Summit kicked off National Small Business Week, held around two-year anniversary of DMB’s formation

DETROIT — Detroit Means Business (DMB), a coalition of private, public and philanthropic partners dedicated to meet the needs of Detroit’s small businesses, in collaboration with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), hosted its inaugural Small Business Summit on Monday, May 2, 2022, to kick off National Small Business Week. The one-day, in-person event was aimed toward aspiring and existing Detroit small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The DMB Small Business Summit showcased the wealth of entrepreneurial and business resources that exist in Detroit and provided access to those who have not been able to reach those resources previously. DMB aims to lower the barriers that have traditionally existed for minority-owned businesses to access capital and contracts.

“The pandemic has highlighted the many systemic failings that have kept our small businesses at risk from economic and environmental factors, as well as the opportunities available to them,” said Kevin Johnson, DEGC President and CEO. “Detroit Means Business continues to address these opportunities to elevate the city’s small business ecosystem and make Detroit the place to open and operate an independent business. The Small Business Summit is the perfect example of such efforts.”

The event, which took place at the Roostertail, offered tangible takeaways to strengthen business, including panels, workshops and one-on-one expert consultation. Consultation appointments were arranged at the time of registration and tailored to each eligible attendee to allow entrepreneurs to make long-lasting business connections.

Additionally, the Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA) and DMB administered onsite grant awards as part of the Business Impact Grant Program, sponsored by Bank of America. Grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 were awarded to six eligible businesses. Additional grant funds totaling $25,000 were awarded onsite by Black Leaders Detroit.

A fireside chat was held during happy hour between Carla Walker-Miller, President and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services, and Nailah Ellis-Brown, founder and owner of Ellis Island Tea, on the journey to successful business ownership. The Summit’s keynote speaker was Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. A complimentary continental breakfast and lunch was provided to attendees, courtesy of New Economy Initiative.

“Detroit Means Business is proud to host a successful event that provided resources and support for our city’s small business owners and entrepreneurs, and we are thankful to our sponsors who helped make it all possible,” said Alondra Alvizo, DMB Senior Program Manager. “We are excited to continue the impact and momentum of Detroit Means Business – especially as we celebrate both National Small Business Week and two years since DMB was formed – and look forward to hosting this summit for years to come”

Since its formation in May 2020, DMB has provided integral support to small business owners and entrepreneurs in Detroit, including:

  • Facilitated access to $742 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans
  • Disbursed more than $18 million in cash grants
  • Distributed over 6,000 free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits
  • Provided free one-on-one PPP application assistance
  • Hand-delivered Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications to over 1,000 businesses
  • Conducted webinars on Small Business Association (SBA) loans, health and safety updates, flooding assistance, local procurement and more

To learn more about the DMB Small Business Summit, visit

About Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) is a non-profit organization that serves as Detroit’s lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction and economic development. DEGC is led by a board comprised of business, civic and community leaders. Its staff provides services for key public authorities that facilitate incentives and other forms of financing for projects that bring new jobs and investment to the City. DEGC also manages important initiatives to support small businesses and grow neighborhood commercial corridors. DEGC is dedicated to inclusive development and access to economic opportunity. Follow DEGC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Learn more at

 About Detroit Means Business

Detroit Means Business (DMB) was established for Detroit small businesses navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides access to resources, information and experts to ensure businesses can survive the initial business trauma, successfully reopen and operate in a way that ensures the health and safety of employees and customers. This program is being led by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and was conceived by a collaboration of the City of Detroit, corporate enterprises, private foundations, as well as philanthropic and nonprofit sector leaders. Learn more at


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