MUSKEGON, MI – The Muskegon Black Business Expo is returning downtown for a second year Saturday with over 80 vendors, organizers say.
Black Wall Street Muskegon, an organization created to support Black-owned businesses in the area, is hosting the one-day event from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Van Dyk Mortgage Convention Center on Saturday, June 18.
Lashae Simmons II, the founder of Black Wall Street Muskegon, said she is excited to return for another day of networking.
“We have grown,” Simmons said. “Last year, we had 60 vendors, and this year, we have 82. And with the symposium last year, I think we only had about 50 guests. This year, we have around 90.”
The expo, like last year, will be broken into two parts: a ticketed educational symposium and a free vendor showcase.
The symposium features the “Million Dollar Round Table” with different breakout sessions centered on available resources, funding, legal structures, business taxation and marketing.
The panel speakers include CEO of The Traveling Hair Boss Destiny Adams, part-owner of AmbianceGR Jamiel Robinson, SAG Law Attorney Te Dan Smith and Forrest Tax & Accounting Founder Ashley Forrest.
The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and general admission is sold out. Still, there is a chance for everyone to experience the expo.
The afternoon free Vendor Showcase will feature 80-plus vendors, live entertainment and a makeup show competition between local makeup artists for a chance to win $1,000.
The makeup artists will pick a theme and use it on three models, Simmons said. Two of the models must come already made up before a speed round, then will be judged based on how well they illustrated that particular theme.
Soulistic Blu is one of the many vendors included in the showcase, scheduled for 1 to 6:30 p.m.
Owner Kelly Gooden opened up her natural and organic business in 2019 and will be returning to showcase her herbal and sustainable products once again.
“I am looking forward to seeing all of the new businesses that have popped up between last year and this year,” Gooden said. “There is such a variety, and it’s so beautiful to see more people working in their passions and getting their products out into the community.”
Gooden hopes attendees learn from her booth that there are natural alternatives to medicine.
Black Wall Street Muskegon has seen an increase in vendors due to an increase in entrepreneurship in the area, Simmons said, which officials say furthered its mission of creating sustainability for Black-owned businesses.
“It is amazing to see the many businesses that are participating in 2022 that didn’t even exist in 2019,” Simmons said. “We are trying to let people know that these businesses exist, and it allows us to say that some great things are going on in urban communities. This an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate that.”
The expo is the kickoff to various events occurring this year. Next up, the public can attend the Back to School Bash in August, a Business Pitch Competition in September and a Trunk or Treat event in October.
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