Raising a successful start-up community

Raising a successful start-up community
COMMENTARY by Gregory G. Viener and Brian G. Glowiak

Small businesses are America’s growth agent. And in Flint and Genesee County they are a particularly pivotal contributor to efforts to create an authentic and more inclusionary environment that makes visitors and residents alike feel like this is a community that welcomes entrepreneurs and innovators.

Our region’s small business owners are big bosses and a massive source of employment growth, according to The Small Business Administration (SBA) which reports that smaller companies employ 47.5 percent of the private U.S. workforce.

They are a source of first jobs, an employment gateway for those re-entering the workforce and among the most likely to have an ever-present “We’re Hiring” sign in the window.

In addition to our $5.4 million investment in downtown Flint in 2017, Huntington Bank is partnering with Metro Community Development to fund local business development through the Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative.

Together, since 2017, we have invested $2 million in advancing Flint’s start-up and small business community by connecting innovators and our creative class to the city’s talent base.  These investments have ranged from as low as $1,000 to as high as $200,000.

Among our most visible investments is the expansion of Glam Box Boutique. For founder Deria Brown, the new Perry Building location opening in downtown Flint’s business district is a critical indicator of her business’ growth potential and the city’s growing commitment to inclusionary development efforts.

Steps away, our investment in the relocation of Hoffman’s Deli is already paying dividends. Owner Heath Hoffman says, “with the help of Metro my dreams and the dreams of others can become reality.”

Metro also supported the relocation and expansion of Banks Funeral Home in Flint, resulting in additional employment opportunities.

There are countless other success stories throughout Flint and Genesee County, but there need to be more of them.

Ask any small business owner and they will tell you that access to capital is one of the biggest barriers to growth efforts.

And in our region, this fact cannot be ignored. Too many promising small business owners are self-funding their growth efforts, operating home-based businesses and skimping on costly infrastructure investments in order to control costs.

These sacrifices come at a cost – growth.

We need to move these shoe-string businesses from struggling start-ups to sustainable stay-ups in order to maximize our region’s economic potential.

That’s why we are elevating our efforts to find and provide funding to the smallest and hardest to reach entrepreneurs in and around our region. Whether they need a few thousand dollars or $250,000, our funding is making a lasting difference in giving more women, minorities, veterans and other underrepresented groups the opportunity to create the kind of employment growth and economic development that makes the headlines.

The potential here is palpable and growing.

Editor’s Note:  This commentary was contributed by Huntington Bank Mid-Michigan Region President Gregory G. Viener and and Metro Community Development CEO Brian G. Glowiak.

Lead photo: Glam Box Boutique Owner Deria Brown (left) credits Metro Community Development and its CEO Brian Glowiak (right) for providing the financial assistance necessary to support her business expansion in Flint’s downtown business district. Her newest shop at 620 Saginaw Street will officially open Friday, May 10 at 4 p.m. 








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