(Tom Alexander / MJ)
(Tom Alexander / MJ)

By SAMANTHA BELCHER, Student Life Editor

Alicia George was born and bred in Detroit. She worked as a flight attendant and at a Marriot hotel for some time. Years later, she made her own dream come true by opening Motor City Java House. This coffee house is located in the Old Redford district, about 20 minutes from Downtown.

“I wanted to bring my dream to the corner of that neighborhood, making it a place where the community could come hangout and be proud of,” George said.

Not only has George started a business, but she has also given back to the community. In 1998, she began working with Motor City Blight Busters, a non-profit housing organization. Through the organization, she and other volunteers were able to revitalize and stabilize Detroit neighborhoods. They also demolished abandon houses and turned abandoned buildings into businesses.

George was just one of four entrepreneurs who have similar stories and were featured at the College of Business’s Urban Entrepreneur Panel on April 11.

Students had the opportunity to talk to Torya Blanchard of Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes and Rodin, Lindsay and Daniel Gearig of El Guapo and Mac Shack food trucks, Jordi Carbonell of Café con Leche, and George about their experiences as Detroit business owners.

According to Professor Joy Beatty, the panel was run as a part of an entrepreneurship class that was offered this year. The Betty F. Elliot Initiative supported the class and panel.

Beatty added that the panel’s theme this year was businesses in Detroit.

“We wanted panelists who could speak from experience about the successes and challenges available in our local area,” she said.

The panel was held for all students who were interested in the business field, not just students who want to start their own business.

“Students can [could] hear real stories of how these successful businesses have done it, and they can [could] network with others who are interested in starting a business,” Beatty said.

The event also provided food from the businesses being featured on the panel.