DETROIT— Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) today announced the hiring of Kai Bowman as Vice President, Detroit Mean Business, effective Dec. 8, 2020. Detroit Means Business (DMB) is a subsidiary of the Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA) and was created to help local small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Bowman will provide strategic leadership to DMB, where he will oversee the build-out of DMB programming and small business support throughout the City.
“Kai brings a wealth of leadership experience to the helm of DMB at a critical time for Detroit’s small businesses,” said Conrad Mallett, DEGA Board Chair and Deputy Mayor. “He was a founding member of DMB, and now has the responsibility to create a framework that will empower DMB to elevate Detroit’s small business ecosystem.”
Announced by Mayor Mike Duggan in May 2020, DMB was initially formed as a multi-partner coalition to provide emergency assistance to Detroit’s small business owners in the face of COVID-19. Under Bowman’s leadership, DMB will expand its reach to address issues – such as access to capital, legislation, inclusion and training – that can limit growth for Detroit’s entrepreneurs. He will report to Kevin Johnson, DEGA President.
“Small businesses are the heart of Detroit’s economy, providing essential products and services to local residents, jobs and neighborhood stabilization,” said Johnson. “In just a short time, we have seen the positive impact DMB has had on the small business community. I expect Kai will continue to provide the resources needed to help businesses operate during the pandemic, and work to eliminate the barriers to success that small business owners in Detroit are often faced with.”
Bowman joins DMB from the Mayor’s Office where he served as Executive Director for Planning, Housing and Development. In his role there, he co-chaired the Mayor’s Equity Council to ensure longtime residents and small businesses reaped the benefits of the City’s growth. Before joining the Mayor’s staff, Bowman worked at Whirlpool Corporation, Bank of America, Wachovia Corporation and Teach for America. He also served in the United Service Organization, where he supported U.S. troops during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Bowman earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 2002; a Master of Science in Finance and Development from New York University in 2006; and a Master of Business Administration in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business 2014. He is on the board of the Detroit Transportation Corporation and the Eastern Market Partnership.
“I am honored, thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to help create a positive environment for Detroit’s small business owners on such a large scale,” said Bowman. “I look forward to joining the incredible team under Kevin Johnson, which is committed to inclusive small business development and the economic well-being of our communities.”
Bowman was selected as the result of a nation-wide executive search, spearheaded by DMB Chair Carla Walker-Miller.
“Kai’s experience and impressive record of organizational leadership convinced us that he is the right person to lead DMB as the program’s first official leader,” said Walker-Miller, Founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services. She is also Chair of DMB’s Executive Advisory Committee and Co-Chair of the Small Business Owner Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA)
Detroit Economic Growth Association promotes activities to spur economic growth and revitalization in the City of Detroit. DEGA is the nonprofit arm of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), and engages in business attraction, urban redevelopment and financing programs. Since 1978, DEGC has served as the City’s economic driver, designing and implementing innovative solutions that catalyze investment, create jobs and advance the economy of the City of Detroit through public and private sector collaborations. DEGC is Detroit’s one-stop shop for both emerging and expanding businesses and is committed to inclusive economic development. https://www.degc.org
Detroit Means Business (DMB)
DMB is a coalition of government, business, nonprofit and philanthropic partners created to assist small businesses in Detroit. DMB began in May 2020 with the goal to help Detroit small businesses safely and successfully reopen in concert with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Phase 4 restart plan. Designed to support Detroit-based businesses with fewer than 50 employees, DMB provides a range of resources that strengthen Detroit’s small business support ecosystem. These resources include access to financing, help transitioning from brick-and-mortar operation to online or hybrid models, assistance for successfully navigating the regulatory environment, opportunities to increase revenue, and access to safe Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). A Customer Experience Center is available to assist business owners with all services available through the program, as well as one-on-one coaching and live webinars. DMB is being formed as a low profit limited liability company (L3C) and subsidiary of DEGA. https://detroitmeansbusiness.org