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MI ties for state with most top African American-owned businesses

Ronald E. Hall, Jr. and Ronald E. Hall Sr, owners, Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C.,
Ara Howrani
(l to r) Ronald E. Hall, Jr. and Ronald E. Hall Sr, owners of Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C., the biggest Michigan-based company on the Black Enterprise list.

This year, 22 of the nation's 233 biggest companies owned by African Americans are based in Michigan, according to Black Enterprise Magazine.

The only other state with that many businesses on the list was New York.

The magazine divided the companies into seven sectors: industrial/service, auto, advertising, financial services, banks, asset managers, investment banks and private equity firms.

In four categories, Michigan companies placed within the top five highest-grossing spots.  The industrial and automotive Michigan companies were most represented, while the state's African American-owned advertising and finance businesses were less robust.

Detroit-based Bridgewater Interiors, LLC is the biggest Michigan-based company on the list with total revenues reaching $1.7 billion as of as of Dec. 31, 2011.

MLive's Melissa Anders reports:

A company must be at least 51 percent black-owned and meet industry-specific revenue or asset criteria to make the list. “Michigan has historically been one of the states on our list that has had a number of BE100s companies,” said Derek T. Dingle, editor-in-chief. That’s largely due to the automotive suppliers and car dealerships in the Detroit area, he said. Michigan has 18 industrial/service companies and automotive dealerships on the list, more than any other state. All but two of the 22 Michigan-based companies are in the Metro Detroit area. The others are Saginaw Valley Ford Lincoln in Saginaw and Vicksburg Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. south of Kalamazoo. “We’re starting to see the results of the resurrection of the auto industry,” Dingle said. “The auto dealers that are on our list are now gaining their footing as auto sales are coming back.” Prestige Automotive Group in St. Clair Shores came in second among the top-grossing automotive dealers with about $409.7 million in revenues. The company employs roughly 120 people at locations in St. Clair Shores, Warren and Okemos. “It means that we have definitely done all the right things and made all the right choices to get us where we are today,” said marketing director Renae Logan. The Black Enterprise list has served as a barometer of black-owned businesses throughout the years. In the past, many companies on the list were focused on industries serving African Americans, such as hair care, Dingle said. Entertainment has also been an important sector, with Detroit's Motown Records topping the list for years. “As there have been changes in business cycles and the economy, we’ve seen changes with our list,” he said. Dingle said he has noticed fewer family-owned businesses and more corporate professionals starting companies. He's seeing increased activity in the technology sector, and said that more black-owned private equity and financial service firms are providing capital for black entrepreneurs.

You can read the entire Black Enterprise Magazine article here.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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