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.
Bob Ennis, Ennis Center for Children
Since he was 9 years old, Bob Ennis knew he would one day be working with children.
“When I was young, my parents divorced and I ended up living with my grandparents and uncles,” says Ennis. “I knew then I was going to be working with kids like me and God blessed me to be doing that for the last 50-some years.”
Local business owner Rachel Hougen opened her business after she discovered a need in the restaurant industry.
“I got the idea when I was working in a restaurant that couldn’t afford a dedicated pastry chef,” says Hougen. “I went to a few of my old chefs and asked if they’d be interested in buying pastries from me and they said, ‘Absolutely, we would do that.’”
Alicia Gibbons, the third-generation owner of Donna’s Donuts, has always been a part of the local business.
“Donna’s was the first place I went before they took me home from the hospital,” says Gibbons. “My parents and grandparents had to show me off.”
The shop was originally under ownership outside Gibbon’s family, but a few years after it opened her grandparents, who worked at the donut shop, fell in love and got married and together they bought Donna’s Donuts.
When David Gaines was young, he didn’t envision taking over the family business, Gaines Jewelry.
“I wanted nothing to do with the jewelry business,” says Gaines. “Because to me, working at my father’s business as a teenager, it was just cleaning counters and getting everyone lunch.”
But after he graduated from high school, Gaines gained a new perspective on the business.
In 2013, Grace Peabody graduated from Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business with a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. It was then that she and her father Jim decided to go into business together.
“I never thought I’d be in insurance,” says Peabody. “It’s something you kind of fall into and then you love it.”
Dwayne & Sonyita Clemons
Ryan Garza & Courtney Simpson
Christie Wong Barrett