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Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance to launch searchable business directory

6/2/21

Crain’s Detroit Business

By Annalise Frank

The Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance is launching an online directory of 800 local Black-owned businesses Monday called the Hastings Street Index.

Named after a thoroughfare in the historically important but now-destroyed Black Detroit neighborhood Black Bottom, the interactive list will allow anyone to search by location, category and various tags for Black-owned enterprises.

The MDBBA plans a virtual launch event 2 p.m. Monday with local historian Jamon Jordan, president and CEO Charity Dean said.

The city razed the north-south Hastings roadway and Black Bottom area in a forced relocation of Black residents and their thriving businesses to build I-375 and Lafayette Park in the 1950s and 1960s.

Members of the recently started chamber of commerce can get listed on the Hastings Street Index, as well as those that aren’t — though without a membership a business can’t build up their profile as much.

“It’ll be something that will be growing iteratively as we get more folks to sign up to join the directory,” Dean said.

The directory’s search function will work almost like restaurant search engine and review site Yelp.com, she added.

“You could put in tacos and it’ll pull up any business that has tacos,” she said.

Romulus-based Bradley Creative Group LLC made the Hastings Street Index, which Dean expects to cost about $100,000. The chamber has raised about $30,000 so far for the launch. Sponsors include Detroit-based Walker-Miller Energy Services, Go Daddy, Comcast, New Economy Initiative and Goldman Sachs, according to Dean. The site itself is also expected to generate revenue later through advertising.

The MDBBA launched in March to converge and amplify the voices of Black business owners. It sought to meet the needs of business communities that have faced structural racism, and been underserved and discriminated against over decades.

The organization has also signed a lease for a 2,200-square-foot business resource center downtown at 1234 Washington Blvd. with meeting and work space, printers and more for members. That is to open sometime this summer.

Dean, former director of Detroit’s Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity, is helming the regional organization alongside another former Detroit executive, MDBBA Chief Operating Officer Kai Bowman. TCF Bank committed $1 million over five years to the effort.

 

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