Pontiac, MI - Oakland County launched an innovative program that will help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and thrive, County Executive Dave Coulter announced Thursday, March 10, 2022 at a news conference in Southfield.
Business Forward will engage the county's 36,000-plus small businesses with expertise and resources in the communities where they are located.
"The Business Forward program has already started working in communities throughout Oakland County making it easier for entrepreneurs to run successful small businesses," Coulter said. "They will be bringing their expertise and resources directly to the thousands of small businesses that call Oakland County home."
The county will place nine Business Forward consultants in communities throughout the county to give all small businesses the opportunity to succeed, with a focus on minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned businesses. The consultants have a variety of expertise such as childcare, food service, marketing, manufacturing, retail, and more. They will link business owners with services they may not be aware of such as the availability of government grants and training opportunities.
"I'm excited to work in the community one-on-one with business owners," said Tracey Williams, Business Forward consultant in Southfield. "This enables us to have a far greater reach, by assisting more small business with information, resources and access to funding. Small businesses create jobs and are the centerpiece of our local communities. Connecting with more businesses to help them to scale up just makes good economic sense."
Business Forward will improve accessibility to the county's small business services for business owners and entrepreneurs. The goal is to assist 4,000 businesses a year – a 10-fold increase from previous years. Before, business owners from across the county had to travel to Waterford to access Oakland County's small business services.
Business Forward consultants will deliver these services locally in cooperation with community-based organizations such as downtown development authorities, chambers of commerce, business organizations, and local economic development professionals.
Rashida LaShawn, owner of The Glam Doctor, a makeup artist company based in Southfield with 15 contractors who serve production companies, media, corporate executives, and bridal needs, is looking forward to accessing Oakland County's small business services within her community.
"As an entrepreneur, the success of my business depends on my being available to customers and contractors 24/7," Williams said. "Having the option for a Business Forward consultant to work with me on site and around my schedule gives me the flexibility I need to grow my business."
Small businesses are the backbone of our communities throughout the county. They stabilize neighborhoods and reflect the rich diversity and culture of surrounding communities and provide opportunity for so many people.
"Running a successful restaurant and being one of the original businesses to anchor Oak Park's new social district means being there before, during, and after business hours," said Alex Bishai, owner of Oak Park Social gastropub. "Having access to Oakland County's small business services right in my community will make a big difference for our operations."
There will be upcoming Business Forward kick-offs in various communities:
- Pontiac Saturday, April 2 at the Pontiac Economic Summit
- South Oakland, Tuesday, April 5, 4-6 p.m. at The Dog and Pony Show Brewery, 14661 W. Eleven Mile Rd., Ste. 200, Oak Park
- Lathrup Village, Thursday, April 7, 4-6 p.m. at the Community House 27400 Southfield Rd.
- Farmington/Farmington Hills, Tuesday, April 12, 4-6 p.m. at The Hawk, 29995 W. 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills
- Highland Township, Wednesday, April 13, 4-6 p.m. at The Steeple Hall, 205 W. Livingston Rd.
- Southfield, Thursday, April 21, 4-6 p.m. at the Centrepolis Accelerator, 21315 Civic Center Dr., Ste. 100.
To connect with a Business Forward consultant, call 248-858-0783 or email