Young entrepreneurs of color share their journey of how they started their own successful businesses and organizations in Grand Rapids. They will share their successes, trials, and triumphs as they navigated being an independent business owner in West Michigan.
Skot is the Principal/Founder of Global Bridgebuilders (GBB) A firm focusing on Cultural Transformation and Inclusion. Global Bridgebuilders is an international team providing services to enterprises across the globe. GBB bases its work in the core belief that inclusion is a business discipline and that it should be leveraged across all that the enterprise does.
Skot has been a global bridge builder long before he founded the company in 2006. Growing up in a military family gave Skot a unique perspective on diversity that he still carries and a passion for helping organizations tap into the vast experiences of their employees to create stronger businesses.
Currently, Global Bridgebuilders serves a wide range of clients in the U.S. and in 7 other countries. Skot has worked in International business and Diversity/Inclusion Management for nearly 20 years and has developed an in-depth knowledge of diversity, inclusion and workforce development that brings together and maximizes the perfect blend of people and process.
Prior to the launch of Global Bridgebuilders, Skot served as Vice President of Business Development and Benchmarking Services for Diversity Inc. Magazine in New Jersey, where he worked with many of the Fortune 500’s biggest global brands across a broad range of industries.
Skot also served as co-host of Radio in Black and White a weekly, two hour, positive, free flowing, solution oriented discussion about faces and places, which ran for almost 10 years. Skot is also the Author: 101 Ways to Enjoy The Mosaic: Creating a Diverse Community Right in Your Own Backyard; Co-author: Plantation Jesus; Co-author: The Ross School of Business - University of Michigan: Diversity Management as a Generative Strategic Process: When the Business Case Meets Positive Organizational Scholarship; And the Diversity & Inclusion Expert In Residence (Silicon Valley & New York City) Culture Shift Labs Think Tank.
He is also the founder of The Mosaic Film Experience which – A High School/College Film Festival involving students from over 46 countries. Skot received his Bachelors Degree (B.A.) from Albion College and His Masters in Management and International Marketing (M.M.) from Aquinas College.
Skot and the love of his life, Barbara reside in Michigan with their children.
Michael Davenport was born in Grand Rapids and attended Ottawa Hills High School. He graduated from Xavier University, where he is a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame (Men’s Basketball 1987-1991), and the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law. Michael is married and has 2 sons.
Michael is currently the President and CEO of Jireh Metal Products, Inc. Jireh Metal Products, Inc. is an ISO9001:2008 certified manufacturer of progressive metal stampings and assemblies, supplying a variety of industries. A perennial winner of Supplier Excellence Awards, Jireh focuses on satisfying the needs of customers through quality, continuous improvement, competitive pricing and on-time delivery.
Davenport brings his proven track record of leadership, team building and strategy implementation to Jireh Metal. Michael most recently served as the Directory of Community Development for First Financial Bank in Cincinnati, OH where he led the Bank’s community development strategy. Prior to that, Davenport served as a Regulatory Attorney for First Financial, Fifth Third and U.S. Bank where he managed the implementation and review of consumer lending legislation.
Jermale and Anissa Eddie own and operate Malamiah Juice Bar in the Downtown Market Grand Rapids. Jermale originally hails from Berrien Springs, Michigan and Anissa grew up in the greater Grand Rapids Area. Jermale holds a bachelors degree in Education from Grand Valley State University and a masters degree in family life studies from Spring Arbor University. In addition to running their business, parenting and being actively engaged in the local community, Jermale is also on staff at Madison Square Church, Ford Campus.
Anissa earned her bachelors degree in social work at Calvin College and went on to receive her masters degree in social work form the University of Michigan. She has worked as a school based social worker for the past eight years and is now focusing more on the work related to their growing business and growing family. The Eddies reside in Grand Rapids with their two sons and are anticipating a 3rd son to make his grand entrance in October.
Jamiel Robinson is the Founder & CEO of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses. Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (also referred to as GRABB) is a Start-up Economic Development company that focuses on fostering an economy that supports the revitalization of the Black community and expands opportunities for Black Businesses in the Metro Grand Rapids area by promoting economic equity.
Jamiel also is the Youth & Teen Director for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. Jamiel is active in the community, serving on the executive board of Grand Rapids NAACP, Fred & Lena Meijer Scholarship Committee member for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, volunteering as a mentor for Endless Opportunities a local non-profit and helping to support other local organizations. Jamiel is a co-founder of Empower Michigan a state-wide initiative focused on creating and implementing solutions to the urban crisis in the Black Community.
To date Robinson has been recognized as a leading voice in West Michigan on economic equity with feature articles in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, UIX (Urban Innovation Xchange) Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Press and Grand Rapids Magazine. Robinson has also been honored by Local First as their 2014 Local Hero, by Legacy Ball Committee as a 2015 Legacy Award recipient and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce as one of thirty extraordinary leaders over the past 30 years.