Ongoing wave of entrepreneurship continues to grow in Michigan – The Oakland Press

As a child, Mario Kezzi remembers Oakland Mall in Troy being like New York City, especially during holidays and special events, and it’s that lively, happy environment that he plans to redevelop as the new owner.

“It’s very emotional for me,” said Casey, a Macomb native who bought the Oakland mall earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. , which he bought a few months ago.

“My family had an ice cream shop in the mall. “We had 52 flavors.” He proudly recalls that his parents owned a business that lived in Tell Kupe, Iraq before immigrating to Michigan in 1979.

They thought not only of themselves but of the family they hoped to have in the future.

Three sons and one daughter later lived the American dream as parents and small business owners.

“I had an entrepreneurial childhood working alongside my father and family,” said the chairman and founder of MKiezi Investments during an interview from his offices overlooking a commercial corridor in Troy. My father always told us to work hard and work smart, meaning for yourself.

His father operated several businesses, including a liquor store and deli, before settling in Sterling Heights, where Casey was born and raised. Like many Chaldeans and other immigrants in their community who were free to pursue their own goals, the family flourished. After graduating from Sterling Heights High School, Casey followed in his father’s footsteps in operating several liquor stores in Ohio, and it was the sales of these stores and licenses that provided him with the capital to develop a strip mall and Finally, larger purchases such as Oakland Mall.

Casey’s father passed away a few years ago, but his entrepreneurial spirit continues to inspire Casey, 32, who is an example of confident young entrepreneurs creating exciting new business models.

Numbers indicate increases

Small businesses in the state are experiencing tremendous growth and expansion, new data shows.

In the first three quarters of 2021 alone, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees added nearly 170,000 jobs, the fastest start to small business growth in 23 years, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information.

The state also saw an explosion of entrepreneurs and business owners starting new ventures in 2021, with 150,000 new small business applications to start businesses, up 59 percent from 2019.

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“Small businesses are the backbone of Michigan’s economy and anchor communities across the state,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release. “Recent data shows that entrepreneurs have been fired and are starting tens of thousands of businesses.”

While the numbers are encouraging, investments must be made to build on momentum by retaining and hiring more workers, expanding operations and attracting more investment, Whitmer added.

Currently, Michigan has 902,000 small businesses with 1.9 million small business employees, accounting for 48.3 percent of the state’s workforce. In fact, 99.6 percent of Michigan businesses are defined as small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

“The entrepreneurial spirit is growing in Michigan,” said JD Collins, CEO of the Michigan Small Business Development Center, a statewide resource for small businesses. Our advisors are experiencing an unprecedented number of start-up ventures and business transitions.

Unique jobs

Brett Sussman said it’s never been easier to start a business, but it’s also never been harder to maintain one.

Last year, more than one million new businesses were established, but at the same time, more than 100,000 businesses closed.

April Cobb, founder of Tender Moments, has had so many requests for the products she sells online, she's opening a brick-and-mortar store.  Photo by Daryl Malone, On the Spot Portrait Studios.
April Cobb, founder of Tender Moments, has had so many requests for the products she sells online, she’s opening a brick-and-mortar store. (Photo by Daryl Malone, On the Spot Portrait Studio)

“I think we’re seeing a shift,” said Sussman, vice president of Kabbage, an online company acquired by American Express that provides financing to small businesses and consumers through an automated lending platform. We are fundamental in the way customers buy our products.” “It really requires an online approach that embraces all businesses.”

A website and social media also increase traffic to a brick-and-mortar business, which is why many companies invest in digital marketing campaigns that generate interest in a product online.

Business owners also use the Internet for networking and support.

Balloon Hype founder Lee Jacob from Macomb has always had a passion for balloon decorations. When he decided to turn this passion into a business, he joined a national network of balloon artists. They meet several times a month on Zoom for support and training. Zoom has also helped many small businesses stay connected with employees, vendors, and even customers.

“Balloon Hype had a great year serving a wide variety of corporate and community clients,” says Yacoub, who creates artwork, sculptures and even balloons for special events that require out-of-the-box decor, such as a 30th. 8 foot arch or bouquet. “I’m not afraid to show off a new design or sculpture and I like to surprise the customers and employees of the company,” Yaqoub said.

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For April Cobb, founder of Tender Moments, the Internet led to a brick-and-mortar store.

Ever the crafty person, Cobb made Christmas wreaths and home decor to relieve stress as a graduate student at Wayne State University, majoring in industrial-organizational psychology.

Most of what he made went to his family and friends, but with every gift he gave, people told him he should benefit from his creativity. She never took them seriously until she graduated and after making her first Diaper Wreath gift set, she realized that the gifts she loved making were very special.

“Finally in 2008 I decided to turn my hobby into a business and Tender Moments LLC was officially born,” said Cobb, who is currently a psychology professor at Macomb Community College.

Since then, she’s built her online business – one step at a time, as the mother of three says.

A decade later, online demand created the need for a showroom so customers could buy what they wanted, when they wanted it. The opening of his brick and mortar store will be held on February 20 from 14:00 to 18:00.

Cobb of TM Showplace and Design Studio at 26803 Harper St., in St.

Supporting small businesses

Among the small businesses that have failed to grow, but are needed to support the growing number of small business owners, are daycares and nurseries.

Hoping to help change the trend, LARA-Child Care’s Michigan Licensing Office hosted a Child Care Access Expo to provide information and resources to Michigan residents who may want to start their own child care business. Offer.

“I think that’s what we’re going to see more of moving forward with the governor’s agenda,” said Kelley Lovati, president of the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce.

The MI New Economy is a $21 billion plan to grow Michigan’s middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities.

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Levati said the expo helps with labor issues, but also with the industry itself, which needs more business.

“It’s an important part of what’s going on in our economy,” Levati said. “There are women who want to work (or start their own businesses and businesses) but can’t find childcare.”

Some other initiatives in this plan are:

• $500 million to help build Michigan’s Main Street Communities, which provides grants to restaurants, place-based businesses and micro-enterprises with more dollars to attract more startups.

• Bipartisan tax cuts for small businesses, enabling them to grow and create jobs

• Michigan Procurement Executive Directive to increase government procurement and contracting with small and geographically disadvantaged businesses.

• Expanding apprenticeship programs: Federal grants will help Michigan create more than 6,000 new apprenticeships over the next few years.

“I think we’re going to see more businesses get involved and grow when the programs and opportunities that become available are talked about,” Levati said.

As for what will happen to Oakland Mall and other Keysey properties?

“We are patient. Buying a mall is new to me and I want to make sure I take my time making a decision.

What he envisions is a family destination, a city within a city that has all the amenities you might need for a fun day or night away from home. It includes a garden park on the roof of the Sears Building (which was actually built as a three-story building instead of two) and a parking lot concert venue with seating and a stage. Kiezi also owns a building on Hull Road that will host spaces for makers, such as those looking for unique, handmade or hard-to-find products. As a shop-within-a-shop, The Maker has space for artist galleries, corporate events, family parties or DIY workshops.

“He’s definitely an exciting developer,” said Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and the Chaldean Community Foundation, referring to Keysey, who has been known to use social media to get the word out about his development projects. Is.” I think it is this unique way of thinking that makes the difference in the projects he is developing.


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