Andre Bartell, left, and Omar Dismuke, right, are joining forces in the Black-owned business realm.
A local Detroit pair, Andre Bartell and Omar Dismuke, have teamed up to create the ultimate business marketplace to help Black-owned businesses regain a sense of normalcy while growing a budding network of businesses.
Businesses are beginning to see a small glimmer of hope one year after the start of the pandemic which wiped out a number of neighborhood mom-and-pop shops. While many businesses closed, other Black-owned businesses continue to face systemic and racial discrimination along with financial inequalities. Combined together, these issues help continue to lessen the success rates for Black businesses across the country.
The Detroit Business Center is the brainchild of Andre Bartell, an entrepreneur and owner of a printing company in Metro Detroit. Through years of professional and entrepreneurial experience, the creation of the new business network reaches beyond the assistance he can provide alone. Establishing a network for not only Black businesses but small businesses led by women, minorities and disabled veterans alike, The Detroit Business Center will act as a one-stop-shop for business knowledge.
“When people want to find out about businesses, financing, loans, business development, marketing or anything dealing with business, we want them to come to the marketplace,” says Bartell. “Instead of searching around for particular businesses, we’re bringing everything under one roof.”
The idea to form the network originally hatched some years ago. However, after shifts in key players, the site never saw the light of day. Now, with the stars aligned, the DBC is a reality.
“The idea was visionary close to about 20 years ago when we first got into the online platform. We tried to launch it for many years, but we just couldn’t find the right team,” Bartell says.
As the platform already existed prior to the pandemic, COVID provided the perfect storm to reintroduce the brand and push Black businesses during a time when extra encouragement was needed.
“This platform has been available for a number of years now. The pandemic, it’s an opportunity for us to really launch it and really take advantage of it,” says Bartell.
The site helps customers shop around for the best business to fulfill their personal and professional needs. It will give business owners the opportunity to connect with local resource providers, post jobs, source leads and interact with customers and other entrepreneurs. Shifting gears to an online business was a seamless transition for the entrepreneur.
“It was easy for us to make the transition to an online process that’s something more than a directory, but a marketplace where everybody comes to shop,” he said
Founding the Detroit Business Center came as a collaborative effort from the LunarX Agency and QmeLocal. Together with Bartell, the entities collectively formed to make an even greater impact on Black businesses and the community at large.
“It was during the pandemic that we kind of intersected and my team, we were developing strategies and different packages to help the small businesses throughout this time,” says Omar Dismuke, co-founder of LunarX. “We thought it was the perfect opportunity to help Andre get his idea online by building the platform.”
No stranger to helping businesses along their path to success, Dismuke formerly led brand development for Dayton Business Center. The Detroit native is using his work through LunarX to propel Black businesses forward, close the digital divide in urban and underrepresented areas and create unity amongst Black business entities.
“Local business owners will now be able to network, connect and collaborate with one another inside of one comprehensive platform,” says Dismuke. “The marketplace helps accomplish one of our goals of narrowing the digital divide in the area.”
The Detroit Business Center will offer high-level analytics to provide a range of data, including small-business representation by volume, employee count, industry and revenue. The network will also partner with banking institutions and government entities for financial assistance and access to programs.
The Detroit Business Center also welcomes home-based and online companies.