February 22, 2023 (DETROIT) – The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has announced Dr. Marlo Rencher as the first president of its small business initiative, Detroit Means Business (DMB), a coalition of private, public, and philanthropic partners dedicated to meeting the needs of Detroit-based small businesses. Dr. Rencher, a native Detroiter and serial entrepreneur, is a long-time advocate of entrepreneurship and inclusion within Detroit’s small business community.
“Dr. Rencher is well-known and respected within many circles of Detroit’s small business community. She brings a strategic mindset that will help DMB anticipate future opportunities and chart a course that will enable the team to thrive in our rapidly changing environment,” said DEGC President and CEO Kevin Johnson.
As president, Dr. Rencher will provide direction in delivering DMB’s strategic agenda while building capacity within the organization. Additionally, Dr. Rencher will provide leadership in strengthening relationships with Detroit’s small and mid-sized businesses, supporting the needs of the city’s small business ecosystem, and fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for local entrepreneurs.
“It is an absolute honor and privilege to join this esteemed organization and be part of a community of forward-thinking leaders dedicated to driving innovation and progress for Detroit entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Rencher. “Together, we will unlock new opportunities and achieve greater heights in shaping the future of our city’s business community.”
Dr. Rencher’s hiring comes as the DMB, which was founded to support local small businesses during the height of the pandemic, seeks to elevate its programming following an influx of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“ARPA funding will help DMB carry out the Mayor and City Council’s vision of supporting small businesses who suffered the negative impacts of COVID-19. As those of us on the front line know, many of our small businesses are still struggling to recover,” said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, group executive for jobs, economy and Detroit at Work. “Dr. Rencher has a track record of leading systems and the interventions needed for small businesses to do more than recover. She’s the right leader to help us create conditions in which Detroit small businesses can thrive.”
Dr. Rencher joins Detroit Means Business after serving as senior director of technology-based programs at TechTown Detroit. Here, she focused on developing new, inclusive, outcomes-based initiatives that break down discriminatory barriers within the start-up community to foster innovation, creativity and success.
Prior to that, she worked as vice president of innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity at Cleary University. Dr. Rencher is also the co-founder of Commune Angels, an inclusive community of angel investors. She is a Michigan State University graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in business and organizational anthropology from Wayne State University. In 2021, she was named one of Michigan’s 100 Most Influential Women by Crain’s Detroit Business.
“Dr. Rencher is a fearless advocate for Detroit’s small businesses. Her experience as a business owner, innovator, angel investor and problem solver is unmatched,” said Walker-Miller Energy Services Founder and CEO of Carla Walker-Miller, who serves as DMB’s executive committee chair. “Under her leadership and informed by the voices of Detroit’s small businesses, we will meet the vision of DMB to scale the ecosystem.”
About Detroit Means Business (DMB):
Detroit Means Business is a coalition of business support organizations and government agencies that was established to help small businesses in Detroit, Michigan. The coalition’s primary objective is to provide small business owners with the resources and support they need to survive and thrive in Detroit’s economy. This includes access to financing, training, technical assistance and other resources.
About Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC):
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation 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.