Small Business Development Center creates event to benefit Black-owned businesses in Muskegon

October 26, 2021 (Volume 45, Number 5)

collage of photos, three headshots on top, magazine cover on bottom left and two people standing in front of fireplace on bottom right

Clockwise from top left are Amanda Price of Amanda’s Frosted Dreams, Kaja Thornton Hunter of Kaja’s Flavor, Deanna Gantt of HairbyDVG Beauty Boutique, Jukia and Robert Fisher of JR Décor and Destinee Keener of Kuntry Cookin'.

Photo Credit: courtesy photos

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), housed in the Seidman College of Business, is sponsoring a pitch competition for existing Black-owned businesses in Muskegon. The event, Pitch Black Muskegon, offers more than $26,000 in prize packages.

Ed Garner, regional director for the SBDC West Michigan region, said Black-owned businesses were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nationally, about 41 percent of Black-owned businesses closed when the pandemic first hit,” said Garner. “Most were smaller businesses. Some may have been able to reopen by now, but many are still struggling.”

Many of these businesses don’t have a lot of employees or cash reserves, and are months away from having operational cash, said Garner. “This pitch competition is just one of our attempts to reach out to underserved communities and provide the assistance they may need,” he said.

The Pitch Black Muskegon event, funded through the federal CARES Act, will take place November 3 at the Muskegon Museum of Art. The top five winners will receive a series of customized services that include assistance with web development, marketing, branding, social media, accounting and legal services. The first-place prize package has a value of $10,000.

Garner said taking part in a pitch competition is beneficial for business owners. “In order to prepare a pitch, owners must really analyze their business operations,” he explained. “As they go through that process, they better understand their needs and what it takes for their business to survive.”

The five finalists are Jukia and Robert Fisher of JR Décor, Deanna Gantt of HairbyDVG Beauty Boutique, Kaja Thornton Hunter of Kaja’s Flavor, Destinee Keener of Kuntry Cookin’, and Amanda Price of Amanda’s Frosted Dreams.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center provides no-cost consulting, business education, market research and technology commercialization to new and existing businesses throughout Michigan's 83 counties.

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This article was last edited on October 26, 2021 at 8:57 a.m.

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