Small business is the cornerstone of any small community.
It takes time, it takes heart, it takes talent, and often a lot of help from friends.
That couldn't be more true for two Port Huron area natives who've found success and helped rejuvenate their communities.
We're going to share their stories of success and inspiration during a Community Conversation on entrepreneurship from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at The Citadel in Port Huron.
During the evening, we will dive into how they got started and how their investment helped their communities thrive.
"We want to bring in amazing people and combine them with people of a similar mindset to inform and inspire," says Brian Boyle, co-CEO of Issue Media Group, The Keel's parent company.
Sharing their success stories will be Marine City native Melissa Fisher and Marysville native, Phillip Cooley.
Fisher and her husband, Jeremy, helped re-ignite Marine City's downtown in 2008 when they opened the doors to The Original Marine City Company Smokehouse and Eatery. The success of their restaurant, and the emergence of other small businesses in Marine City's downtown area has really brought it back to life.
"The revitalization of Marine City has helped pave the way for new and existing businesses to grow," Fisher says.
She says the eclectic assortment of shops really draws a variety of people to town, as there is something for everyone, even if it's just coming to explore the shoreline and the freighters cruising the St. Clair River.
Marysville native Phillip Cooley decided the time was right to invest in Detroit about 16 years ago, when he and his team opened Slow's Bar BQ.
After traveling the world, Cooley said he felt more of a community in Detroit than in other places like Chicago or New York, he wanted a home where he could make an immediate impact..
"I felt there were limited opportunities… Detroit had a better way to participate," Cooley says.
While many were not certain Detroit was the right place to invest his money, Cooley believed his knowledge of Detroit gave him a leg up, not to mention he fell in love with the city and its culture.
With inspiration and help from great partners he met along the way, Slow's Bar BQ was born.
"Many thought I was crazy," he says.
It may have been crazy, but the decisions made created a destination and helped bring life back to a struggling Detroit neighborhood.
Cooley has his hands in many Detroit projects, constantly working to better the neighborhood and provide great opportunities for people.
In addition to the restaurant, he started the business incubator Ponyride Detroit, to help others get their ideas off the ground and he teaches at Lawrence Tech.
"I'm always jumping around and working on something," he says.
It hasn't always been easy, and has take a lot of experimentation, luck and affordable failure.
Cooley credits help from his great partners for making such an impact.
"I've never met someone who can do all things," Cooley says. "I've always had a team of people I work with to keep it going, my talents and experience aren't generally enough."
That's the one piece of advice Cooley wants to share with other budding entrepreneurs--don't go it alone. It may be a bit of an "ego check" to seek help, but rarely is there one person who can do it all.
Communities have seen a dramatic change because of the efforts of these and other gutsy entrepreneurs, join us Oct. 25 to learn how to boost the community and be a catalyst for change.
Food and drink will be provided.
A $5 minimum donation is requested at the door. Funds will be donated to Enter Stage Right, The Citadel's theater company.
The Citadel is at 609 Huron Ave. in Port Huron.