Jamiel Robinson hopes to be instrumental in encouraging and retaining African-American business owners in Grand Rapids. Photo by Johnny Quirin
Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses and LINC Community Revitalization share a similar vision: the economic flourishing of Grand Rapids’ minorities.
It would be fitting, then, to see them partner up.
A collaboration is coming this weekend as part of a two-day event called The Black Market, which looks to introduce minority-owned businesses to the community, said Jamiel Robinson, founder of GRABB.
The event is scheduled to run Friday, from 5–8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. It’s hosted by LINC at the LINC Gallery, at 341 Hall St. SE, Grand Rapids.
Robinson said the event’s goal is to “increase the visibility portion of black businesses, because they sometimes don’t do a good enough job of marketing themselves — and letting people know they do exist and where they are. It also helps these businesses become sustainable by introducing them to a broader customer base.”
Friday evening will involve networking and speakers, and there will be about 10-15 business booths, Robinson said. On Saturday, there will be 20–30 business booths.
The event’s name, a play on the term for an underground economy, comes from the fact that many minority businesses are not “legitimate” and “registered” businesses, Robinson said.
Robinson said, hopefully, the event will bring the business faces out of the shadows.
“We want to take businesses that aren’t registered with the city and turn them around into full-fledge businesses, get the support of the government, help them grow and employ more,” Robinson said.