District Business Liaisons: Help for Detroit's small business owners

Posted at 7:18 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 19:18:24-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Up and coming business owners may face a variety of frustrations in the City of Detroit. So, the city created a business liaison position. It's been around for about four years now, but those who need the resource may not know about it.

"Connect with your district DBL. Connect with them, introduce yourself, (and) tell your story. They listen to those stories," business owner Stephanie Watt said.

Watt told her story to district business liaison Mikki Godfrey. Watt is revamping a mixed-use building she owns on Kercheval, having poured $200,000 dollars of her own money into the facade renovation.

The Detroit native says when she needed to take the next step and cut through red tape with the city, another business owner previously helped by Godfrey connected the two.

Watt said, "That's what they're here for and the resources.... resources that I was completely unaware of."

Godfrey is one of seven district business liaisons with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. She says the goal is to help small business owners navigate city processes and procedures to open a business or keep it open.

"If you are opening up a bakery, you know how to bake. But you might not necessarily know how to get a permit or obtain a permit. Or to receive your certificate of occupancy, or your certificate of compliance. That's where your local DBL's come in," Godfrey explained.

The city says DBL's also provide knowledge on licensing, essential business services, funding, and other organizations. She says the feeling of making a difference for small business owners and ultimately the community is indescribable.

Godfrey said, "I laugh and joke about this all the time, but I would do this for free."

"For me to wake up and be able to receive calls and texts of a finished product where I know where the business owner started from or where they got stuck at and to have them to become unstuck or to finish that product, it's a true blessing and I enjoy it," she explained.

"It is definitely fulfilling," Godfrey added.

If you or someone you know is a small business owner and could use the guidance, click here.