"There's really no reason to be in public service if you're not trying to serve the public," Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans told the crowd of nearly 400 attendees in his opening remarks for the 3rd Wayne County Business Resource Network Roundtable, held at the Wayne County Community College District Campus in Taylor on Oct. 25.Although there is certainly a place for luring new business to the County
, the primary focus of his administration thus far has been on making life better for those businesses that stayed here through the tough times serving their communities.
"That's what we're trying to do. We've come through a very tough period of time when it was tough for businesses to do anything," said Evans. "And now we're in a growth spurt that's amazing, and I think the first order of business is we owe a debt of gratitude to Wayne County businesses. We want to make sure that we do things to support those businesses. The backbone of this growth is going to be small business. It always is."The role of government is to provide the level of service, the quality of infrastructure, the things that are necessary to help your business be successful. I want to make the neighborhoods that surround your businesses better."
Shayla Fletcher, a legal fellow with Equal Justice Works, said she found the event helpful.
"It's important because small businesses are the heart of the community," said Fletcher. "It's great for individuals that are owners and employees to come and see there are other businesses that may have the same challenges as them and some of the same successes and may be able to network with other individuals that could be helpful to them in the future."
Ronald Hinrichs, President of the Southwest County Regional Chamber of Commerce, agreed: "Events like this are critical to our small business community in the southern Wayne County region and quite frankly the entire Detroit region because there's a lot of resources and opportunities and obviously the networking is phenomenal."
On site, in addition to networking opportunities, attendees were able to take advantage of four separate breakout sessions that took place after the opening comments and discussion, including:
Â· Business Assistance, featuring :
o Small Business Development Corp (SBDC).
o Consumers Energy
o Health Choice
o Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
o Build Institute
o Accounting Aid Society
Â· Financing Options, featuring:
o Huntington Bank
o Levin Energy Partners
o U.S. Small Business Administration
o Bank of Ann Arbor (Plymouth)
o PNC Bank
o Fifth Third Bank
o JP Morgan Chase Bank
o CEED Lending
o Build Institute
o Tech Town
Â· Employee Recruiting and Training
o University of Michigan, Dearborn
o Southeast Michigan Community Alliance
o Wayne County CC District
o Henry Ford Community College
o Schoolcraft College
o Detroit Employment Solutions
o Insite - Focus
o Health Choice
o TED - Veterans Services
Â· Vendor Opportunities
o Wayne County Airport Authority
o Jenkins Construction
o Rockford Construction
o Bedrock & Barton Mallow
o JGH Consulting
o Wayne County Human Relations Group
o Wayne County Purchasing
o Schoolcraft College - PTAC
o Michigan Economic Development Corp.
o U.S. Department of Commerce
Discussion moderator Mark Lee, President and CEO of The Lee Group, cited statistics showing how difficult it is for a new small business to keep the doors open. In stark opposition to those statistics, all three panelists were local examples of how to run a sustainable business. Al Petri, President of Al Petri & Sons Bicycles, is the third generation of his family to run the business founded by his grandfather in 1946. Jeremy Westcott, Managing Director of Environmental Testing & Consulting, began his business in his basement 30 years ago. And Tom Lawrence, President of Lawrence Technology Services, has been in business for more than 15 years.