Ethnic chambers share business tips at Macomb County event

Understanding how different cultures do business can help you land an important deal or forge a successful new business partnership. To foster this understanding in Macomb County, OneMacomb and the Macomb County Chamber hosted Connecting Diverse Business Cultures Dec. 1 at Andiamo in Warren.

15283992_1501159566579344_8138609662135182478_nWe heard from a panel consisting of Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce (CACC) President Martin Manna, Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) Executive Director Van Nguyen and Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MHCC) CEO Gloria Lara. It was moderated by WXYZ Channel 7 News anchor Nima Shaffe and opening remarks were given by Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers and Macomb County Chamber CEO Grace Shore. Here is a summary of the highlights.

What challenges do your businesses face?

CACC: There is a need for understanding and overcoming challenges like refugee phobia. Newcomers need particular assistance understanding licensing issues and navigating the local municipalities.

15192572_1501159263246041_2294503640819852238_nAPACC: When working with companies abroad, you need empathy and an understanding of how they do business. For example, someone from Michigan may be methodical and take their time making decisions. A Chinese businessperson is used to making rapid decisions and last-minute changes to business deals. If there is a disconnect, no deal may be made. But if there is patience, understanding and respect for how the other does business, they can work together successfully.

MHCC: Hispanic-owned businesses often do not reach out for resources available to them. They are hard workers, but tend to stay in the background. Therefore, they need more welcoming and encouragement.

How do you encourage productive networking?

CACC: We recommend joining other local chambers and networking with other groups to get experience interacting with different types of people.

APACC: Step out of your comfort zone and network with people who don’t look like you. Learn what other businesses do so you can find collaborative opportunities that will benefit both.

MHCC: It is important to listen to other people’s stories in order to start relationships. Find commonalities. We share more than we don’t.

How can Macomb County attract businesses from abroad?

CACC: Immigrants are already investing in Macomb County businesses. Chaldean populations are growing significantly in Warren, Sterling Heights, Macomb Township and Utica.

APACC: You can attract business through economic incentives, such as tax breaks, and also through offering a welcoming cultural landscape. This could include immersion schools and grocery stores that cater to diverse dietary needs. This will not only attract businesses, but make them stay.

MHCC: Companies are drawn by cost, quality, deliverability and reliability.

How can Macomb County officials make doing business here more appealing?

CACC: Macomb County is a model for the nation. It is open, receptive, supporting and welcoming. Officials should work on building relationships and providing guidance to help entrepreneurs understand all the legal requirements and how to access resources.

15267574_1501159569912677_4877632248532457832_nAPACC: Officials should attend chamber events and translate informational materials into the native tongue of their largest minorities. Also, officials striving to be inclusive should recognize major ethnic holidays, such as Diwali (observed by Asian Indians and also known as the festival of lights), through acknowledging them on their website or holding special events.

MHCC: Macomb County’s infrastructure and transportation are assets. Officials should emphasize that there are opportunities for businesses to start small and later expand in Macomb County.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

 

 

 

 

Macomb County supports National Black Business Month

In 2004, August was established as National Black Business Month. It is a time for policy makers, venture capitalists and residents to focus on fostering a welcoming environment where black-owned businesses can prosper. It is also a call to action for those within the black business community to support one another.

onemacomb (1)In an effort to create an inclusive community for all people, Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel established OneMacomb. One of OneMacomb’s key objectives is to strengthen the county’s economy. This is accomplished by focusing on a variety of approaches to advance economic inclusion.

For example, we are hosting job fairs specifically geared toward our county’s diverse populations. Recently, OneMacomb met with the Detroit HBCU Network and members of the new Alpha Kappa Alpha Macomb Chapter to discuss matters of mutual economic interest. We are working together to host a job fair at our Macomb County Family Resource Center on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Other strategies we are implementing to create a welcoming and inclusive county consist of sending our job postings to our African-American, ethnic and cultural business organizations and meeting regularly with African-American community leaders to connect them to resources in the county that help their businesses advance. Also, at our Macomb Business Awards, we recognize businesses that are cultivating an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued, and we are proud to promote our Model of OneMacomb award.

Our Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development also specializes in helping all types of businesses grow. Their staff has extensive knowledge about available incentives and alternative financing programs that may be able to assist eligible businesses in gaining access to capital and taking advantage of new opportunities such as job training, energy efficiency and façade improvement programs.

Bill Perkins Automotive GroupAnother way to help black-owned businesses succeed in Macomb County is through patronage. There are 677 minority-owned businesses in Macomb County. According to Crain’s Detroit Business 2014 Book of Lists, the top black-owned businesses in the county are St. Clair Shores-based Prestige Automotive LLC and Eastpointe-based Bill Perkins Automotive Group and metal processing corporation SET Enterprises Inc. in Warren.

This month, challenge yourself to shop small, shop local and discover a new business. By redirecting a small portion of your spending, it could be a beneficial boost to Macomb County’s black entrepreneurial system.

Pam Lavers is the deputy county executive for Macomb County and leads the OneMacomb initiative.