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.
Ed Benning, MTA Flint
For nearly 40 years, Ed Benning has served as general manager of Mass Transportation Authority Flint. And a lot has changed since 1980.
The changes have come with the changing landscape of Flint and Genesee County. Benning prides himself identifying gaps in the area and finding ways to fill them.
Amber Schlemmer was working as a personal trainer when she discovered she wanted to do so much more.
“Instead of telling my clients no, I decided that physical therapy school was the next step,” says Schlemmer. “Going back to school kind of fell into my lap, but I have never regretted the decision.”
Four years ago, Jackie Berg saw a great market opportunity in Flint.
“I think Flint is the next Cinderella story of the United States,” says Berg, owner of Bridges Communications Group, Inc. “It is going to be a remarkable success story and I am really happy we have a vehicle to cover its resurgence and be part of it.”
Erica Soriano started helping at her parents’ restaurant in Grand Rapids when she was seven years old. After elementary school she would go straight to the restaurant – something she continued until her parents had to close their businesses.
Her parents brought up their children with the idea that they would one day take over the family business. While it didn’t happen that way exactly, in July 2017, Soriano opened Soriano’s Mexican Kitchen in downtown Flint.
Fifteen years ago, Courtney Simpson and Ryan Garza were working independently as photographers. Garza worked for the Flint Journal and Simpson was operating her own photography business and teaching classes at the Flint Institute of Arts. One day, they decided their efforts would be better together and joined forces to become Pop Mod Photo.
Dwayne & Sonyita Clemons
Christie Wong Barrett