GENESEE COUNTY – A new idea was launched last week for Genesee County businesses – a complete approach to helping small businesses, new and existing, learn the building blocks for a successful business. Once these building blocks are mastered by entrepreneurs, their businesses are then eligible for funding up to $50,000. The program is called BizBOX.
According to Metro Community Development, the Flint-based community organization for bringing BizBOX to Genesee County, “Each BizBOX business will receive up to $50,000 from Metro Community Development to help finance the first year’s cost for vendors and training.”
BizBOX was launched last week in Flint, with sponsors Michigan Economic Development Corp., and Fifth Third Bank. Huntington Bank and Chemical Bank are also lending partners.
Ravi Yalamanchi, the Metro Community Development CEO, said at the BizBOX launch, “The whole idea behind BizBOX is based on our own experience at Metro Community Development. We know that the employment opportunities will grow more by small business.”
Yalamanchi went on to describe the early BizBOX success stories, “We have a couple of small businesses that we have made loans with, and one of them is Fenton Wine and Brewery, which we are way excited about. It’s a started out as a wife and a husband business and now they have between 11 and 15 employees. Based on that experience, what we have learned also is that many of the time small businesses do not have the tools for them to become successful.”
One pillar of BizBOX, according to Yalamanchi, is to help businesses overcome challenges, “There are always many challenges for small businesses to go through, so we have decided that we need to create a tool box for the small business so that they can take those tools to sustain them. We see small businesses as an engine to create jobs, and we see them as a catalyst for the local community.”
Yalamanchi also explained the role of the BizBOX sponsors, “We have put together a partnership with the MEDC and Fifth Third Bank. I want BizBOX to be a way for small businesses to grow. If someone finishes the BizBOX curriculum, we have a product for them of up to $25,000. If they are an existing business and they go through the BizBOX curriculum, we will give them up to $50,000. We are willing to take some risk on our end to sustain these businesses. Our current focus is Flint and Genesee County.”
Entrepreneurs interested in exploring the BizBOX program should navigate to bizboxmichigan.org or call 810-767-4622. – By Timothy Mucciante