Entrepreneurship | Events | Features

Small businesses take on #MPC15

A little bit of Detroit took over Mackinac Island Thursday afternoon, as Rachel Lutz and her brainchild “Building Bridges to Small Businesses” took over the lobby of the Mission Point Resort for a ‘break-out session’ showcasing the importance of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the overall fabric of Michigan’s economic growth and sustainability.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, where there was a void in covering this topic on this year’s agenda, Lutz found a way to fill it…and in true Detroit fashion, she found a way to make it a party.

Motown was flowing from the DJ booth, as people shopped the four represented businesses and sipped cocktails from local breweries and distilleries. The four companies included The Peacock Room (owned by Lutz), Rebel Nell, Sweet Potato Sensations and Cyberoptix Tie Lab, with cocktails representing Our Detroit Vodka, Two James Distillery and Batch Brewery.

Sweet Potato Sensations turned heads at #MPC15

Sweet Potato Sensations turned heads at #MPC15

“Each of these businesses tells the story of Detroit’s economic revival at the micro level,” said Lutz. “Our businesses have nothing but great things to say about the economic opportunities we’ve experienced in Michigan. The [Detroit Regional] Chamber is a leader in holding meaningful conversations about our state’s economy, and we’re looking forward to partnering to help elevate the important role of small business in those discussions.”

While this event was not formally on the agenda of the conference, it came to life with much help from Cindy Pasky, an entrepreneur herself, who started Strategic Staffing Solutions as a small business in Detroit and has since grown it to a $264 million global company that provides over 2,700 jobs.

“The small businesses of today are the big businesses of tomorrow, and when there’s robust civic and institutional support of small business, we remove barriers to retaining talent,” said Pasky.

As a small business owner myself, I took pride in walking through the event, supporting where I could (I mean…someone had to drink the beer) and learning more about each small business. With each necklace that was purchased, sweet pie that was taken home or brew that was batched for the occasion, jobs are created and these businesses are growing.

Today’s event was a small reminder to “think small”, shop local, support Michigan’s small businesses, because they just might be the next industry to help our state attract and retain more jobs, talent and stability.

With the overwhelmingly positive response for the event, the only question that now remains is how we expand the role of small businesses on the agenda for years to come.

For more on the businesses featured, ready Cindy Pasky’s column, “Entrepreneurs will build a strong Detroit

Kerry Doman
Kerry Doman is Founder and CEO of After 5 Detroit (www.after5detroit.com), a website that highlights events, hotspots and information targeted at young professionals who wish to fully experience the Detroit lifestyle. She also founded a spin-off business, Connect After 5 (www.connectafter5.com) that develops after-work events and activities for local companies that seek to build morale, engage their employees within the community and increase retention amongst their staff. In summer 2010, she launched the After 5 Intern Program (www.after5internprogram.com) that joined together thousands of interns and new hires to retain the area’s top graduates by showcasing the available lifestyle throughout downtown Detroit. With each new program and venture, Kerry strives to create opportunities that showcase the available lifestyle throughout the area, in hopes of further attracting and retaining the top talent to live, work and play within the city of Detroit. Kerry is the recipient of many awards, and is currently Co-Chair of the Emerging Philanthropists Initiative, as part of the United Way of Southeast Michigan. She sits on the Board at The Heidelberg Project, Boll Family YMCA, D:Hive Advisory Board, and the Detroit Creative Corridor Center Advisory Board. Follow her @KerryAfter5.