TechTown Detroit to host conference recognizing legacy and contributions of Black businesses in Detroit

A graphic that says Black Business Reunion and has event details

Free, in-person conference to feature panel discussions, a high school pitch competition, a resource fair and fireside chat with business leaders Marlo Rencher, Ph.D., president of Detroit Means Business, and Mark Douglas, president of Avis Ford

Jan. 29, 2024

In honor of Black History Month, TechTown Detroit, Wayne State University’s entrepreneurship hub, will again be hosting a free, one-day conference to celebrate and honor the legacy of veteran and emerging Black-owned businesses that are at the root of Detroit’s growth and strengthen the fabric of our community. The Black Business Reunion: Uniting the Community for Prosperity will take place in person at the Wayne State University Industry Innovation Center on Thursday, Feb. 22, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are encouraged to attend and join TechTown in paying homage to the quintessential reunions of Black families by celebrating Black businesses of the past, present and those to come.

The Black Business Reunion, TechTown’s third annual Black History Month conference, will include two panels focused on tips for founders and entrepreneurs, preparing for business longevity and creating prosperity. The first panel, The Elders’ Corner, is where owners of some of Detroit’s most successful businesses will share their savvy and wisdom for longevity. The second panel, The Youngins’ Show-and-Tell, will showcase emerging entrepreneurs who have leveraged resources in Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to start and grow their companies while overcoming obstacles to keep their doors open. Attendees will also be able to listen in on a fireside chat between Marlo Rencher, Ph.D., president of Detroit Means Business, and Mark Douglas, president of Avis Ford. The two will lead a discussion involving even more tips for business longevity in Detroit and beyond.

“Our Black Business Reunion is a celebration and recognition of Detroit’s Black business community, their everlasting legacy and the impact they make in our everyday lives,” said Christianne Malone, chief program officer at TechTown Detroit and assistant vice president for economic development at Wayne State University. “As with family reunions, we look forward to attendees connecting, networking and celebrating each other with food, music, art and insights from some of Detroit’s best.”

New for this year is the inclusion of a resource fair, which will feature more than a dozen business service organizations from across metro Detroit. The featured organizations will be showcasing information about loan programs, business training classes and technical assistance for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses alike.

Additionally, to encourage the future generation of business leaders, TechTown once again invites high school juniors and seniors to engage in the conference through a pitch competition. Students are encouraged to submit a pitch presentation sharing an innovative solution that will help their favorite Black-owned business level up their success. Standouts will be selected to pitch their ideas live at the conference and compete for cash prizes totaling more than $3,000. Students interested in participating can learn more at

Registration for the Black Business Reunion: Uniting the Community for Prosperity is limited and can be found at

The Black Business Reunion is made possible with support from Bank of America, New Economy Initiative, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and The Rehmann Foundation and is sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.