Street Talk: Cannabis and Division Avenue’s rebirth

MBE focus.
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Changes soon will be underway on South Division Avenue in Grand Rapids as Dr. Paul King, M.D., and his team are poised to transform a century-old building into a state-of-the-art cannabis testing facility.

“I’m from Grand Rapids. I grew up here,” King said. “My wife had cancer. One of the only things that provided her some relief was cannabis, but we had to get it from the street, and we never knew what was in it. I’m a medical doctor, a neurosurgeon, so opening a cannabis testing lab felt like a natural fit for me.”

King is joined on the startup team by Glen Clanton, who has more than 30 years of corporate experience in sales and marketing, corporate training/facilitation and business management, and Paul King II, who has more than 20 years of corporate experience in financial and business analysis. The younger King also holds a degree in chemical engineering from Tuskegee University.

Once operational, Hummingbird Labs will be a full-service Safety Compliance Facility (cannabis testing lab) offering a one-stop solution where customers can be guaranteed they are in full compliance with all regulatory requirements.

“Lab testing for cannabis is mandatory in the state of Michigan,” King said. “We want to be part of making sure the cannabis that people are consuming is safe and free of contaminants, heavy metals and pesticides.”

As the only Black-owned Safety Compliance Facility in Michigan, King said Hummingbird Labs will provide a competitive advantage in the form of social equity credits for its customers. Additionally, Hummingbird Labs will be located within an opportunity zone in Grand Rapids and part of the South Town Revitalization Project, supporting investment and community development resources.

“I currently live in Atlanta, Georgia, but I grew up right down the street,” he said. “We can’t do this in Atlanta, but we can do it here. I specifically chose the location on Division because I wanted to be part of the neighborhood that I grew up in, and to help bring jobs and revitalization the area.”

The demand for compliance testing continues to grow as the Michigan cannabis market faces accelerated growth. Currently, the demand for testing exceeds testing capacity. King said Hummingbird Labs is well-positioned to meet this output challenge and obtain a sizable portion of the market over the next three to five years.

“Isn’t it awesome that this is a new day, and we are testing cannabis products to keep the consumer as safe as possible,” he said. “Our goal for Hummingbird Labs is to create a place where people will learn that cannabis is not the bad guy, and to help educate people to embrace cannabis responsibly.”

King said Hummingbird Labs is offering investors an opportunity to be a part of its vision and dream by investing in its Mainvest capital campaign to build facilities, purchase equipment and general operations.

Here’s the pitch

Michigan Women Forward is hosting the ‘53 Voices’ pitch challenge sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. The challenge addresses income inequality through entrepreneurship by providing anyone with an idea access to the capital, training resources and social connections needed to remove barriers, take an idea and turn it into a viable business.

Rather than relying exclusively on their ability to put pen to paper, applicants will be asked to submit audio business pitches. Each applicant has up to 53 seconds to verbally describe their idea or existing business for consideration. The application deadline is Aug. 17 and must include a one-page concept paper. Visit miwf.org.

“The 53 Voices pitch challenge was created to help women and girls reach their full potential, and allow their voices to be heard,” said Alexis Dishman, chief lending officer at Michigan Women Forward. “At Michigan Women Forward, we believe in an equitable future where women and entrepreneurs of color are empowered to take their business dreams and make them a reality. We’re proud to work toward this goal with Fifth Third Bank and we’re excited to hear what this year’s applicants bring to the table.”

Judges eventually will identify the top 10 finalists. Each contestant will submit a 53-second video to receive $750. The top three vote-getters will receive $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.

Growth mindset

The National Minority Supplier Development Council has a familiar face on board.

Kurtis Trevan joined NMSDC as a consultant to fill the role of vice president of Minority Business Enterprise growth. He also will serve as entrepreneur-in-residence.

Trevan comes to NMSDC from West Michigan-based Gun Lake Investments (GLI), a leading tribally owned private capital investment firm where he was CEO and co-founder. He joined the NMSDC team in early July and will be responsible for developing a growth strategy to help certified MBEs reach $1 trillion in annual revenue. He will be focused on better identifying and preparing NMSDC-certified MBEs to meet both the current and future needs of its corporate members. This will include creating an ecosystem that includes investors, lenders, accelerators and other external resources.

Prior to joining NMSDC, Trevan spent 11 years working for his Native American tribe, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of the Pottawatomi Nation, where he focused on business and investment affairs. During his time as CEO of GLI, Trevan originated two of the largest tribal co-investments in history and grew its portfolio to 12 platform investments over five years across private equity, credit and commercial real estate.

Trevan is the first Native American to join NMSDC’s executive leadership team, reflecting the organization’s dedication to ensuring inclusion and representation of the communities it serves in everything it does.

“We are very excited to welcome Kurtis to NMSDC. His experience and leadership will enable us to set a bold course as we march toward $1 trillion in certified MBE revenue and ending the racial wealth equity gap once and for all,” said NMSDC CEO and President Ying McGuire.

McGuire said Trevan’s addition to NMSDC is injecting a much-needed entrepreneurial spirit and growth mindset into the organization’s work. His passion for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the private sector and over 20 years of business experience will provide the vision needed to help NMSDC drive socioeconomic equity and create true generational wealth for our nation’s communities of color, McGuire said.

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