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Black Business Expo returns to Muskegon for a second year

80 businesses showcased goods, services and a community of support for one another ahead of the Juneteenth holiday.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — For the second consecutive year, dozens of black business owners gathered in Muskegon for the Black Business Expo hosted by Black Wall Street Muskegon.

This years expo featured 80 vendors in the showcase which went from 1-6:30 p.m., as well as the breakfast symposium for business owners to learn from one another and hear from experts.

Vendors and attendees ranged from well established businesses to brand new start ups.

One returning vendor was Christian Boyd, owner of BodyBuilders Collision and Custom, an auto shop in Kentwood. Boyd has been running his business for 13 years, but says the boost they saw from last years expo was one of the biggest he's seen.

"It’s absolutely vital, we’re what you call the mom and pop stores." Boyd said. "With smaller businesses it’s more personal, its about relationships so it’s about the community." He says smaller businesses like his are able to create more meaningful personal relationships that larger corporations can't. 

On the opposite side of the business ownership timeline is Steve Mitchell, who launched the website for his personal training and fitness business, Lifeline fitness, the morning of the expo. 

"When people think of black owned business they think of cosmetology, soul food, they don’t think about gyms," Mitchell said. "It makes me feel proud to be doing something in front of my community and be able to come bring my business and let people see what I’m doing."

That community feeling is echoed by nearly every vendor at the expo. Kaytia Taylor of Kaytia's Sweet Creations was in similar shoes to Mitchell a year prior, quitting her job to pursue her dreams less than a month before the expo. This year she's the first stall people see when they walk in.

"Black businesses don’t always get spotlighted," Taylor said of the expo's importance, especially coming a day before Juneteenth. "It’s a celebration of the holiday, but it's also saying hey these are some of the great things black people offer to the community."

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