Business expo near GR to connect minority owners to corporations

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A minority-owned business showcase that’s coming to the Grand Rapids area this month is hoping to not only help them survive but also sustain.

The United We Sell” showcase will be hosted at the Deltaplex Arena on Oct. 15. The showcase will include some 200 minority-owned businesses.

“I was nervous at a time, but right now I’m excited. I’m pumped, I’m amped and just thankful,” event organizer Benjamin Robinson said.

Robinson, who owns Robinson’s Popcorn, helped organize a Black owned business expo at Woodland Mall last fall. The October 2020 event featured 80 Black-owned businesses from across the country over the course of two days. Robinson says since the event, 25% of the businesses that participated are now able to support themselves financially 100% via their companies.

Robinson says because of the success they saw, he’s hosting the event again this year but on a larger scale.

Organizers say before the event starts at 11 a.m., business owners will be able to network with representatives from different corporations. He says the goal is to give businesses the platform to push their products and services further.

“It’s helping minority businesses engage, be enlightened and be empowered,” Robinson said. “Last year, the community came out to help them survive. This year, corporate America is coming out to help them sustain.”

People who attend the event will be able to find clothing businesses, coffee companies, water companies and even minority-owned financial services at the event. Organizers say they have room for up to 500 vendors.

“The reason why it’s important to me is because I started my business through the community. Me and my family went door to door selling T-shirts to open up a popcorn shop and now, our popcorn shop sells right here in this arena,” Robinson said as he stood in the Deltaplex entry way. “Our popcorn shop is in a few grocery stores. Our popcorn shop helped us open a bagel shop. So, I understand where the businesses are because I’ve just come out of that.”

The showcase is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 15. People interested in attending will have to purchase a ticket. They are available online at the showcase website or at the door the day of the event.

Organizers say there’s still room for businesses interested in showing their products or services. More information can be found on the event website.

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