The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization representing more than 1,200 businesses and affiliates. We also work with hundreds more each year through our Economic Development arm. That’s a lot of business. It’s also a lot of people. In recognition of the entrepreneurs and business owners driving our economy forward, we present FACES, a monthly Q&A series featuring our members and clients. If you’ve ever wondered who it is you’re doing business with – or could be doing business with – in Flint and Genesee, here’s your chance to find out.
Charles Kuta, Ashlor Staffing
After graduating with a business degree from Baker College, Charles Kuta struggled to find work. This led him to work for a close friend’s mother at Summerfield Personnel Staffing Company.
“She said, ‘Come work for me while you’re looking for a job,’” says Kuta. “She trained me, and I learned the business. After she passed away, her daughters and I started our own staffing company. And the rest is history.”
Derek Sommer always knew he wanted to own his own business. While studying computer science at Western Michigan University, he began researching what it would take to work for himself. After graduating, Sommer took contract jobs to become more well-rounded and establish relationships in his field.
“What I loved about being self-employed was having the opportunity to start different projects,” says Sommer. “Starting my own business, I was able to keep the variety.”
Originally, Adam Martin didn’t want to get into the family business. But after graduation, Martin came back to Genesee County and worked for the family business in the interim until he found a job managing a Bob Evans restaurant. There he met his future wife and life, as he knew it, changed.
Julie Lopez is a horticulturist at her core. However, in 2011 everything changed when Lopez’s father-in-law was murdered.
“I started working with the organization in Detroit and helped expand the program to Flint,” says Lopez. “We gained so much support from the community and law enforcement that in 2016 we formed a local board.”
Dwayne Harrington is a familiar face at the Flint & Genesee Job & Resource Fair. For the last year, he and his team have set up a pop-up hair studio giving free haircuts and styles to ensure the men and women attending the event are looking their best.
As the owner of Park Place Hair Studio, Harrington’s main goal of his business is to use it as a vehicle to give back to the community.
Christie Wong Barrett
Dwayne & Sonyita Clemons