How to support National Black Business Month

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In 2004, August was established as National Black Business Month. It is a time for policy makers, venture capitalists and residents to focus on fostering a hospitable environment where black-owned businesses can prosper. It is also a call to action for those within the black business community to support one another.

In an effort to create a welcoming community for all people, Macomb County established OneMacomb. One of this initiative’s key objectives is to strengthen the county’s economy through supporting entrepreneurs of varied ethnicities.

The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development also specializes in helping all types of businesses grow. Their staff has extensive knowledge about available incentives and alternative financing programs that may be able to assist eligible businesses gain access to capital and take advantage of new opportunities such as job training, energy efficiency and façade improvement programs.

One way you and I can help black-owned businesses succeed is through our patronage. The Black Business Month website created a helpful list of various types of black-owned businesses you can support each day of the month, such as a restaurant on Aug. 6, a retail establishment on Aug. 11 and a dentist on Aug. 15.

MerollisThere are 677 minority-owned businesses in Macomb County. According to Crain’s Detroit Business 2014 Book of Lists, the top black-owned businesses in the county are St. Clair Shores-based Prestige Automotive LLC and Eastpointe-based Bill Perkins Automotive Group (either automotive dealership would be perfect to visit on Aug. 3) and metal processing corporation SET Enterprises Inc. in Warren (Aug. 4).

This month, challenge yourself to shop small, shop local and discover a new business. By redirecting a small portion of your spending, it could be a beneficial boost to the black entrepreneurial system.

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Great Fresh Foods new product ready to hit shelves

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Gourmet stuffed chicken patties, fire-roasted chicken breast, Jamaican-style chicken, stuffed meatballs, stuffed beef patties, stuffed chicken meatballs—is your stomach growling yet? This is the product line for the emerging company Great Fresh Foods. If you have not heard of them yet, you will.

Empty plateGreat Fresh Foods is the brand-new sister company of the well-established Garden Fresh Gourmet—the salsa sensation out of Ferndale that has taken the industry by storm. In a few short years, Garden Fresh Gourmet has grown from its humble beginnings to become the largest fresh salsa company in North America. It carries several gourmet lines including hummus, tortilla chips, guacamole, dips and salad dressings.

Co-founders Jack and Annette Aronson have expanded into new territory with their line of gourmet stuffed burgers and meatballs. Having already mastered a state-of-the-art, high-pressure process that enables them to provide fresh products that are preservative-free, they have applied the process to their new company’s products as well. The result is a delicious, never-frozen entrée that is ready to eat after one minute in the microwave.

Empty plate“We are about to launch a new company that offers a breakthrough in the fresh burger and meatball category: chicken and beef burgers that are truly stuffed, not mixed, with premium fillings that both in terms of visuals and flavor profile are unlike anything else on the market,” said Vice Chairman of Garden Fresh Gourmet Dave Zilko.

Zilko added, “To be featured under our new Jack’s Special Grilled brand, the initial line will feature four varieties of fully cooked, all natural, gluten-free stuffed chicken burgers: Spinach & 3 Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon & Cheddar, Roasted Red Pepper & Mozzarella, and PepperJack.”

In April of 2014, Great Fresh Foods acquired a 12,000-square-foot facility located at 44696 Morley Drive in Clinton Township. Choosing to locate Great Fresh Foods within Macomb County put the up-and-coming company on the Department of Planning and Economic Development’s (MCPED) radar. Senior Economic Development Specialists Camille Silda and Jack Johns reached out to the company to offer assistance.

GreatFreshCamille and Jack were able to refer valuable resources to the business and put them in touch with development partners at Michigan Works and Macomb Community College. MCPED also worked as a liaison between Great Fresh Foods and Consumers Energy to get the Clinton Township facility up and running. Preparing an Industrial Facilities Exemption tax abatement was another service MCPED provided.

So where can you find these delicious new products? Look for Jack’s Special Grilled brand in the meat department at Meijer.

A version of this article was also published in eMacomb Spring 2014.