On May 19, the Booker T. Washington Business Association (BTWBA) celebrated the first graduating class of the Workforce Development Entrepreneur Project. The ceremony was held and the MGM Grand Detroit in conjunction with BTWBA’s 8th annual Keys to Business Success Forum.
The Workforce Development Entrepreneur Project (WDEP) is a partnership between BTWBA and Ross Innovative Employment Solutions to enhance the opportunity for Detroiters to realize their dreams of owning a successful small business. The vision of WDEP is to ignite and stimulate small business development in the City of Detroit.
The BTWBA Workforce Development offers city of Detroit residents an opportunity to participate in the small business development workshop series, receive small business plan writing assistance, and where possible, participate in the WDEP Internship Component. These services have helped WDEP participants become equipped to start and operate micro-enterprises within the city of Detroit.
This first graduating class of 10 participants completed business plans for a wide variety of products and services including a mediation/arbitration practice, gourmet foods, computer sales and servicing, and a dance studio to name a few. The program offered a panel discussion moderated by Melvin L. Jones (chairman, McDonald’s African-American Owners Association Consumer Marketing Committee) with such notables as Allen Cook (US Small Business Association), Walter Elliott Fifth Third Bank), Dr. Marilyn French Hubbard (Healthy & Wise Change Agents), and Donald Snider (Paperplas. Inc.). The graduates were offered an opportunity to interact with the panelists and other successful entrepreneurs who are members of BTWBA.
Dr. Lawrence Crawford, chairman, BTWBA, said, “This event exemplifies the spirit of hope that still exists in the heart of Detroiters. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work on the part of the organizations as well as the program participants. We applaud everyone involved with such a worthwhile project.”
Jennifer Harding, project director, Detroit Michigan Works! One Stop Service Centers, echoed the sentiments of Dr. Crawford: “At a time when so many in our community are forced to rethink life and career direction, the Workforce Development Entrepreneur Project becomes an invaluable source of hope and a blueprint for the future. It is an honor to celebrate this milestone with the graduates.”
WDEP is preparing to graduate its second class and welcomes future entrepreneurs for the third session and beyond.