One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Sparking a New Conversation

Heading downtown this weekend (again) to check out some sights and sounds. My first stop: the Black Business Festival at the Russell Bazaar.

The Festival, which runs Saturday and Sunday, is aimed at entrepreneurs at all stages of development. Last year, its inaugural event drew more than 3,000 people, eager for its mix of seminars, panel discussions and entertainment. So you can learn how to do your taxes and the Hustle all in one weekend.

I'm particularly interested in hearing what keynote speaker Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh has to say. His Saturday evening remarks will highlight the city's economic outlook to this large and likely receptive audience of business owners and operators.

The event also highlights the Russell Bazaar and Russell Industrial Center, a business incubator and shopping extravaganza all rolled into one. I've yet to boogie myself out to see this development of stores, restaurants and art galleries (I can almost taste Niki's Pizza now) so I'm ready to check it out.

“Entrepreneurship will usher in Detroit's renaissance,” said Lisa Eberhardt, social media marketing intern for doDetroit, which is helping to promote the festival. “And this event is the perfect way for business owners to jumpstart or continue to grow their business.”

Organizers including Jodie Svagr have boosted the festival's offerings this year, adding a strong educational element to the mix. There's a panel on starting and growing your business in Detroit. There are seminars on everything from finding interns to marketing insights to tax accounting. Speakers range from Pugh to the International Detroit Black Expo and TechTown. Networking is also a key component to this year's event, said Svagr, who handles events, promotions and development for the Russell Industrial Center and Bazaar. Thus, there will be lots of time to get people together to talk about their common issues.

The Festival is designed to bring new business to Detroit, to offer a free, family-friendly event to the public and to highlight Black History Month, Svagr said. The Russell Bazaar also is providing 100 table spaces for local business owners to advertise promote and network.

“The goal behind this whole event is to get conversations started,” Svagr said.

FYI: The whole thing is free. The Russell Bazaar is located at 1600 Clay in Detroit. It is the Motown version of European marketplace, housed within a converted Albert Kahn factory. Most weekends, it has about 150 vendors, who have rented booths within the 60,000-square-foot facility. So come back often!

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  • 1

    I am so excited by the activity I see in Mount Clemens lately with small business start ups. Entrepreneurs are all welcomed to.the innovative small business incubator, Gibraltar Trade Centers which have been opened for many years with great success in good and bad economic times. Lots of small businesses in the centers have been in business over twenty years there. Some have gone on to larger store fronts, only to begin another location in the center again as they expand. I love that the GTC started offering an opportunity to start up small businesses or chance to unclutter your house of items to make a little money for your family. Spaces rent for only $10 to $30 a day for their three day weekend A retailer or service can rent a space for all three days for as well for as little as $85 a weekend. There is free electric and wi fi. These indoor locations serve the oulying areas of Detroit very well all year long. Just letting you know. :) No long term commitments; it's all week to week to accomodate the small business owner. Check it out!

  • 2

    What's even more exciting is the blossoming entrepreneurship in Detroit! In a city so affected by job loss, it is refreshing to see that there is a place for business to emerge even in times of economic disparity.

    The Russell Bazaar is a GREAT location for new and established entrepreneurs. With weekly rates as low as $30 PER WEEK, one cannot go wrong with choosing to do business in the Russell Bazaar. Booth owners are able to keep their products locked in their space during the week without worry of theft. Furthermore, electrical fees are included in the weekly rates.

    This bustling venue showcases the best that Detroit entrepreneurs have to offer from accessories, health and beauty products, art, clothing, services and entertainment. Every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, the Russell Bazaar holds entrepreneurial development seminars which are free for all merchants to attend.

    The Russell Bazaar boasts an artists community that is second to none! Be sure to visit the monthly indoor Arts & Crafts show. The opportunities are endless!

    For more information about the Russell Bazaar, please contact 313-972-7009 or online at

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