According to a February 2023 report by the Economic Analysis Partnership at the City University of Detroit, expectations from the study showed that “Detroit’s resilience in post-pandemic recovery to date will lead to continued growth even amid a challenging national economy.”
“Last year was characterized mainly, but not uniformly, by encouraging developments in the Detroit economy. We estimate that by the first quarter of 2022, employment in institutions located in the city has covered approximately 86 percent of the initial losses from the pandemic,” the report said.
At a time when small businesses are creating jobs, there is an organization that plays an important role in providing the tools and technical assistance small businesses need to succeed.
“Our goal is to help close the racial wealth gap,” said Charity Dean, president and CEO of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance (MDBBA). “We create programs and advocate for policies that advocate for black-owned businesses. We are actively involved in programs that are designed to help business owners get technical assistance such as marketing, legal, accounting, and programs designed with capital in mind. Our Capital Connect program connects funders directly with black businesses. “
Organizations like the MDBBA, founded in 2021, play an important role in stabilizing small black businesses in Detroit.
Dean touts other services, such as the Black Business Resource Center, which offers free internet-connected co-working spaces as it works to bridge the digital divide. The organization also connects businesses with interns who will learn entrepreneurship and participate in pitch competitions.
Despite efforts to help small black businesses, Dean advocates for awareness of government policies that can help and sometimes hurt business.
“We have a Truth to Power series where we invite politicians to talk to black business owners. If ordinances at the city level or policies at the state and federal levels are going to have an impact, we’ll make sure we’re advocating on behalf of our members to make sure they don’t get the short end of the stick.”
The University of Detroit Partnership for Economic Analysis went on to say in a report that “Detroit’s decline in unemployment in 2022 was more than just good news, as it came more from a shrinking labor force in the city than from an increase in resident employment. Between December 2021 and October 2022, the seasonally adjusted number of employed Detroiters fell by nearly 1,300.”
The report estimates that the city of Detroit will add 8,000 jobs in 2022, almost in line with the 8,400 job growth in 2021. We expect growth to slow to 2,200 jobs in 2023 amid a slowing national economy.”
Dean believes that investing in industry-specific training is necessary for small businesses as a whole to drive or contribute to job growth.
“We have an opportunity in Detroit to be really proactive about where we invest in education. 50 percent of Detroit residents work in small businesses. The city of Detroit’s workforce development has an opportunity to ask itself, “Are we losing 50 percent of our existing jobs?”
“There’s not a solid training program for retail or hospitality right now, but the hospitality industry is huge, and it’s huge in small business and black business.”
Dean strongly believes that government programs related to training and investment are in line with the needs of the labor market.
“There’s a ton of manufacturing training, but I think we have an opportunity to include small businesses, and the question is, are we going to do it?”
One way the MDBBA is trying to fill this gap is through a workforce development program and asking members what else can be done through interactive sessions.
“The ways in which our systems are set up across the country are not set up to support small businesses in the same way that they support corporations. They are [corporations] there are several options to get and retain talent from benefit packages and with lobbyists at all levels of government to make sure things like regulations are such that it’s easy for them to do that.”
“Most small businesses cannot afford to pay insurance. So a small business has all these obstacles. They want to hire good talent, but the structures and systems are not made for us, they are made for the most powerful.”