Won’t you be my neighbor?
And my business partner?
Detroit’s businesses are taking this to heart as business owners like Saundra Little use Detroit to Detroit (D2D) to make connections and strengthen each other and the city.
Little recently attended the D2D Opportunity event at the Westin Book Cadillac where she found great leads for her business, Centric Design Studio. It specializes in renovating inside space so it incorporates design themes and graphics that support a company’s brand.
It was a good day. She got interviews with three large prospective clients and an introduction to a fourth that could be in the market for her architectural services.
“Our goal is to become a prime vendor,” said Little. “So they told us how to do that. They said they were satisfied with the work we did and gave us names to contact directly. That was very beneficial.”
The D2D event brought together nine major buying organizations, representing 200 bidding opportunities, with 280 Detroit-based companies ready, willing and able to do business with other Detroit businesses. The nine organizations conducted a combined total of 180 interviews with companies that could become suppliers within the next year.
D2D is a Detroit Economic Growth Corporation program that connects Detroit businesses, hopefully creating a type of capitalistic symbiosis. D2D encouraged 17 large buying organization in the city to increase their Detroit-based spend on materials and supplies from about $550 million to more than $800 million in one year. It could go a lot higher.
“We have the potential to bring that total to more than $1 billion,” said DEGC President and CEO Rodrick Miller. “This event represents a very targeted approach. We have identified the specific needs of large buying institutions in the city and companies that can fill those gaps. It is not a free-for-all.”
Companies hoping to win some business took advantage of other available aids at the event. For example, the Resource Corridor helped buyers can find general information about what they buy and how to become a supplier.
Those attending the event also met with DEGC and other like-minded organizations supporting small business and promoted their products and services to each other on networking bulletin boards.
The Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce was a partner. “If we can figure out how to get these opportunities to these neighborhoods and businesses, we can revitalize our economy and help the city repopulate and grow,” said Ken Harris, president and CEO of the Chamber. He pointed out 30,000 minority-owned businesses call Detroit home.
Almost 50 contracting opportunities from the City of Detroit were available. “From the city of Detroit’s perspective there is a lot of matchmaking we can do,” said Chief Procurement Officer Boysie Jackson. “This is a good forum for a Detroit-to-Detroit discussion. Everyone is getting to know one another and understanding what contracts are coming up. At the end of the day it’s about benefiting the citizens of Detroit.”
The neighbors are indeed banding together to strengthen themselves and each other, drawing on the classic Motor City and Midwestern spirits of hard work and community.