Local Business Connect Program Launches In Oakland County

Waterford, MI - Oakland County is launching a series of free Local Business Connect community events next week to bring valuable support and resources directly to small business owners emerging from the pandemic.

The program, which runs from 8:00-10:30 a.m., includes stops at the following :

  • Tuesday, July 13, Oak Park City Hall Campus Community Center, 14300 Oak Park Blvd, Oak Park
  • Wednesday, July 14, Embassy Suites by Hilton, 850 Tower Drive, Troy
  • Thursday, July 15, Baker’s of Milford Restaurant, 2025 S. Milford Rd., Milford
  • Tuesday, July 20, Flagstar Strand Theatre for The Performing of Arts, 12 N. Saginaw St., Pontiac
  • Wednesday, July 21, Old Town Hall, 486 Mill St., Ortonville
  • Thursday, July 22, Lake Orion United Methodist Church, 140 E. Flint St., Lake Orion
  • Wednesday, July 28, Salvation Army, 27500 Shiawassee Rd., Farmington Hills

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our county and we recognize the many challenges they face as they emerge from the pandemic,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “Local Business Connect will offer fresh ideas to help our businesses bounce back and flourish. Over the long term, we want to make this program a mainstay in Oakland County’s economic development strategy.”

Session titles and speakers include:

  • “Financial Management,” by Meri Dembrow, senior business consultant, Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Lansing. She will provide examples of financial analysis for marketing and pricing.
  • “A Short, Action-Oriented Business Plan,” by Diana Dimitroff, senior business consultant, SBDC, Lansing. She will discuss revisiting a business plan while emerging from the pandemic and making changes to operations; welcoming past customers and attracting new ones.
  • “Maximizing Your Online Presence,” by Son Tran, founder of Pitch Black Media, Ferndale. He will discuss properly listing your business online, growing location-based searches, and optimizing your digital marketing channels.

In addition to the speakers, several other professionals will be on hand to meet with attendees for information sharing and networking. These include representatives from the Oakland County Department of Economic Development’s leadership team, as well as CEED Lending, Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Oakland County, Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, Michigan Small Business Development Center, Oakland County Business Finance Corporation, Oakland County Michigan Works!, Oakland County Veterans’ Services, and Pitch Black Media.

“The tenacity and resolve shown by our business owners—utilizing all the resources and support from their chambers and downtown economic development organizations—has gotten them to the other side of the pandemic challenges. We owe it to them to keep the resources and information flowing so they can move forward and thrive,” said Joy Wells, executive director of the South Oakland Area Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The business community is grateful for the continued support from Oakland County, including the launch of the Local Business Connect program. The chamber and county partnership will play an important role in the recovery of our business community.”

Pre-registration is required. To register, go to OakGov.com/SmallBusiness. For information, small business owners may contact Erick Phillips at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

According to the Small Business Pulse Survey, administered by the U.S. Census Bureau last month, small businesses in Michigan are faced with challenges beyond a worker shortage. In the next six months, 27 percent say they must increase marketing or sales; 20 percent say supply chain issues also are a concern. Likewise, the need to make a capital expenditure is an issue for 20 percent of respondents. Financial assistance or additional capital will be an expected challenge for 10.4 percent of the state respondents.

Despite this, some Michigan small businesses are bullish on their operations returning to a pre-pandemic level. The survey reported 24 percent of respondents saying things have already returned to normal. Others have taken a more measured approach, with 5.5 percent saying business will return to a normal level of operation in 2-3 months, while 12 percent say this will occur within 4-6 months. There are many, however, with pessimistic outlooks: 34.1 percent think it will take more than six months for normal operations to return; 8.6 percent do not think normal operations will ever return.

“This U.S. Census Bureau survey indicates small businesses continue to face a number of real challenges, even as Michigan has eliminated its pandemic restrictions and life is starting to return to normal,” said Oakland County Economic Development Director Ingrid Schuster Tighe. “Our goal is to help accelerate their recovery by introducing them to experts who have proven, real-world strategies for helping them tackle these issues head-on and succeed.”

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