Southwest Detroit Business Association to host hundreds of local business, community leaders at Community Investment Breakfast, June 20

The annual networking event includes a keynote address by New Economy Initiative Director Pamela Lewis, an awards ceremony and a special performance by local students


DETROIT – June 12, 2019 – The Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) will host more than 300 local business owners, community leaders, entrepreneurs and residents during its annual Community Investment Breakfast from 7 to 9:30 a.m., Thurs., June 20. The breakfast is presented by MotorCity Casino Hotel and will be held inside the Sound Board located at 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. FOX 2 Detroit’s Huel Perkins will serve as master of ceremonies.

The event features a morning of networking, a special LIVE performance by students of the Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest (COMPÁS), and a program to acknowledge the positive contributions made by the SDBA while honoring local businesses and community leaders who make Southwest Detroit a vibrant, growing community. Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI), will deliver the keynote address.

In 2011, Lewis joined NEI as a senior program officer and was named the initiative’s director in 2016. Under Lewis’s leadership, NEI, a collaboration of foundations working to grow and sustain an inclusive network of support for entrepreneurs in southeast Michigan, has distributed nearly $18 million in grants to dozens of organizations and programs helping southeast Michigan residents launch and grow businesses. Lewis has positioned NEI as a leading advocate of inclusive entrepreneurship support by focusing on improving network behaviors among NEI grantees and encouraging them to adopt intentionally inclusive values and practices.

An engineer by training, Lewis has more than 20 years of experience in process improvement and program management at organizations like NextEnergy and DTE Energy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Michigan State University and Master of business Administration from Spring Arbor University. In 2016, Lewis was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan by Crain’s Detroit Business. She serves on the board of Philanthropy for Civic Engagement (PACE), a community of funders that invest in the sustaining elements of democracy and civic life in the United States.

“Thanks to Pamela’s leadership and the critical funding made available by The New Economy Initiative to small business owners, more and more metro Detroiters are achieving their entrepreneurial dreams,” said Rob Dewaelsche, president of the SDBA. “We look forward to her keynote address where she plans to share highlights of the NEI’s Detroit Startup Week session, to be held later in the afternoon. The session will present new findings about the hundreds of resources available to southeast Michigan entrepreneurs.”

The 2019 Community Investment Breakfast honorees consist of local business owners, community organizations and leaders, and public servants who have positively supported the Southwest Detroit community. They include:

  • The Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation will receive the Clark Street Award for Civic / Public Investment
  • Chris Engels Greenhouse will receive the Springwells Award for Small Business Investment
  • The Garza Family, owners of Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, will receive the Bagley Award for Generational Investment
  • Kevin Casillas, Pastor of the First Latin American Baptist Church, will receive the West Vernor Award for Community Leadership
  • The Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff’s Reserves will each receive the Michigan Avenue Award for Public Service
  • Local artist, Vito Valdez, will receive the Junction Culture and Arts Award

In 1957, a group of Southwest Detroit business leaders established the “West Vernor Businessman’s Association” to combat the loss of local customers to suburban malls. Today, the SDBA is a coalition of business owners and community leaders who work alongside investors, entrepreneurs, customers and neighbors to capitalize on Southwest Detroit’s competitive advantage.

Listed among the organization’s many program and business accomplishments are: in 1981, the SDBA was the first organization to receive a LISC grant in the City of Detroit for commercial revitalization; in 1989, it was the first business organization to receive a nonprofit status in the State of Michigan, and in that same year, founded the Mexicantown Development Corporation in partnership with the Hubbard Richard Community Council; in 1991, founded the Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV) in partnership with the East Michigan Environmental Council; in 1993, selected as one of three organizations nationwide as a Community Initiated Development National Main Street Model; in 2007, formalized the first BID (Business Improvement District) in the State of Michigan; and in 2018, secured the a Michigan Main Street Program designation for the city’s first neighborhood commercial district, the Mexicantown-Hubbard Communities.

The Presenting Sponsor for the 2019 Community Investment Breakfast is MotorCity Casino Hotel; the Investment Sponsor is CSX Transportation; and the Innovation Sponsor is The Kresge Foundation. Individual tickets are $100 and can be purchased online at For more information about the SDBA’s Annual Community Investment Breakfast call 313-842-0986 or email


About the Southwest Detroit Business Association

Founded in 1957, the Southwest Detroit Business Association fosters innovation, drive and commitment in our community.  We support our community’s vision for a healthy, vibrant neighborhood.  The SDBA works with local businesses, investors, entrepreneurs, customers and neighbors to develop a place where more people are choosing to live, work, shop and play – a place where you find Business Building Community and Community Building Business. For more information, visit


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