Entrepreneur Corey Blackman is building a more inclusive presence in Downtown Muskegon

“Who I am is a great person,” says Corey Blackman, co-owner of Seaway Tours, in describing himself. He is also a fighter, which is evident when hearing about his life’s journey from a young entrepreneur to the self-proclaimed “start-up kid” and businessman with several businesses and corporations in the field of media, all from the age of 19.

Born and raised in Muskegon County, Blackman has overseen many business ventures, from cleaning and graphics to video and promotional productions. Seaway Tours can be added to the list. A micro-mobility company, in partnership with co-owner LaRue Layton, provides rentals of the high-demand Segways — the self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporters — and various scooters to visitors looking to glide through Downtown Muskegon on guided and non-guided tours.

The tour packages include the Main Street Hop, Heritage Tour, Hackley Tour, and Lakeshore Trail, all highlights in Downtown Muskegon that offer visitors a glimpse of the city’s past, its present, and its ever-growing future in tourism. A Grand Haven Glide tour is also offered.

Drawing on the popularity of Segways

Blackman says the company particularly draws in tourists who have just caught on to the popularity of Segways, which he says have been around for more than 15 years.

Blackman, who has always been an enthusiast and avid rider, says he first thought about bringing the business idea to Muskegon after seeing the business model in Hawaii. The layout and map of the business he came across reminded him of Downtown Muskegon, so from there he began working on bringing the idea to life in 2018.

Seaway Tours, before the onset of COVID-19, participated in the popular 5x5 Night event (5x5Night.com) to win $5,000 to assist in the growth of the business. Although they placed second, the company has still managed to gain exposure in the community, having served more than 500 customers — from tourists to community leaders and groups — within the first year of launching.

Leading by example

Blackman continues to stay ahead of it all with other business ventures as he reflects on what is next for Seaway Tours, particularly considering how to bounce back after the effects of the pandemic.

The father of three sons between the ages of 7-12, Blackman continues to work to grow his media endeavors and ensure he leaves a legacy for them and leads by example.

One focus that Blackman is passionate about is offering diversity and group training, an area of focus that his mentor and former employer, Muskegon resident Brian Wheeler, has worked together with him on. Blackman has witnessed the demise of many minority-owned businesses in his community, noting it appears that more opportunities for business startups and expansion tend to favor those from outside of the community.

Blackman praises Wheeler for his contributions to helping people in their community with their footing and beginning their professional endeavors. Wheeler, currently the Assistant Superintendent of Tech, Operations, and Transportation at Grand Haven Public Schools, previously hired Blackman and initially helped him get his start in working with computers and tech work. He adds that Wheeler has been a resource and help to the community having helped changed the lives of many.

Setting an example

As a Black man, Blackman also wants to be an example to others in sending a message of “not being a quitter” when there may be struggles and continuing to aspire at entrepreneurship. He advises the younger generation to be more involved in the community and push for diversity to make things happen and change for the better.

“We are a part of the community, so let it be known,” he says, adding that it is important to also be aware of the market for whatever area of business they seek out.

Blackman adds that success is possible in business without having an actual brick-and-mortar building to operate from, something he has experienced. Seaway Tours currently operates out of the local Muskegon Innovation Hub, with recent renovations and additional office spaces for entrepreneurs to operate their businesses and meet with clients.

For more information about Seaway Tours, visit seawaytour.com/.

Read more articles by Shanika P. Carter.