Grand Rapids, Mich. – In response to the detrimental effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on Black-owned businesses, the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) created PITCH BLACK, a unique pitch competition specifically designed for Black-owned businesses. The first PITCH BLACK event was held in 2021 and targeted existing Black-owned business in Muskegon County. The highly successful competition is now moving to Grand Rapids and this year will focus on Black-owned businesses operating in Kent County.
PITCH BLACK Grand Rapids is part of the MI-SBDC’s Uplift Michigan™ Initiative, a strategic movement designed to ensure equitable access for all diverse entrepreneurs across Michigan. “It’s more than just a pitch competition” stated West Michigan Regional Director Ed Garner. “It’s our way of uplifting the Black business community. We will conduct this in-person event in a game show fashion; complete with a Black game show host, Back judges, Black music, Black business support agencies, and more. PITCH BLACK Grand Rapids wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors Choice One Bank, Comerica, Fifth Third Bank and Huntington.”
A committee of MI-SBDC staff will evaluate applications and select 20 contestants to participate in the competition. The contestants will have to complete a six-week Uplift MI training program to prepare them for the competition and then participate in a preliminary pitch round to determine 5–7 finalists. The finalists will present five-minute pitches on an auditorium stage to a panel of expert Black judges during a live in-person event on Thursday, September 28th.
Three cash prizes will be processed by the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Grand Valley State University. The 1st Place Grand Prize is $5,000, with a 2nd place prize of $3,500, and a 3rd place prize of $1,500. The prize money can be used for any legitimate business purpose.
Those interested in being a contestant for PITCH BLACK Grand Rapids should apply online at www.michigansbdc.org/get-started/upliftmichigan/ by Friday, July 14th at 11:59 p.m. Selected contestants will be notified by Friday, July 21st.
About the Michigan Small Business Development Center
The Michigan Small Business Development Center’s mission is to provide no-cost consulting, business education, market research and technology commercialization to new and existing businesses throughout Michigan’s 83 counties. Michigan SBDC services are available through the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
The MI-SBDC is committed to fostering and sustaining a culture of inclusion through equitable outreach and service to Michigan’s diverse business community. Entrepreneurs and small business owners may access the services of their nearest Michigan SBDC office by visiting michigansbdc.org.
The MI-SBDC is hosted on a state level by Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business. Regional hosts include Saginaw Valley State University, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, Mid Michigan College, Michigan Technological University, Kettering University, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College and Lansing Community College.