Kai Bowman Named Vice President of Detroit Means Business

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Kai Bowman
Kai Bowman // Photo courtesy of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. announced Kai Bowman as vice president of Detroit Means Business (DMB), a subsidiary of the Detroit Economic Growth Association.

DMB was created to help local small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bowman will provide strategic leadership to DMB where he will oversee the build-out of programming and small business support throughout the city.

“Kai brings a wealth of leadership experience to the helm of DMB at a critical time for Detroit’s small businesses,” says Conrad Mallett, board chair of the association and deputy mayor. “He was a founding member of DMB, and now has the responsibility to create a framework that will empower DMB to elevate Detroit’s small business ecosystem.”

In May 2020, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced DMB as a multi-partner coalition to provide emergency assistance to Detroit’s small business owners in the face of COVID-19. Under Bowman’s leadership, DMB will expand its reach to address issues such as access to capital, legislations, inclusion, and training, which can limit growth for Detroit’s entrepreneurs. He will report to Kevin Johnson, president of the association.

“Small businesses are the heart of Detroit’s economy, providing essential products and services to local residents, jobs, and neighborhood stabilization,” says Johnson. “I expect Kai will continue to provide the resources needed to help businesses operate during the pandemic and work to eliminate the barriers to success that small business owners in Detroit are often faced with.”

Bowman served as executive director for planning, housing, and development in the mayor’s office. He co-chaired the mayor’s equity council to ensure longtime residents and small businesses reaped the benefits of the city’s growth. He also worked at Whirlpool Corp., Bank of America, Wachovia Corp., and Teach for America, and served in the United Service Organization, supporting U.S. troops during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

“I am honored, thrilled, and humbled by the opportunity to help create a positive environment for Detroit’s small business owners on such a large scale,” says Bowman. “I look forward to joining the incredible team under Kevin Johnson, which is committed to inclusive small business development and the economic well-being of our communities.”

Bowman earned a master’s degree in finance and development from New York University and a Master of Business Administration in corporate innovation and entrepreneurship from Indiana University. He also has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He is on the board of the Detroit Transportation Corp. and the Eastern Market Partnership.

Bowman was selected as the result of a nation-wide executive search led by Carla Walker-Miller, chair of DMB.

“Kai’s experience and impressive record of organizational leadership convinced us that he is the right person to lead DMB as the program’s first official leader,” says Walker-Miller, founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services.

The Detroit Economic Growth Association promotes activities to spur economic growth and revitalization in the city of Detroit. It has served as the city’s economic driver, designing, and implementing innovative solutions that catalyze investment, create jobs, and advance the economy through public and private sector collaborations since 1978.

Detroit Means Business is a coalition of government, business, nonprofit, and philanthropic partners created to assist small businesses in Detroit. It provides a range of resources that strengthen Detroit’s small business support ecosystem that include access to financing, help transitioning from brick-and-mortar operation to online or hybrid models, assistance for successfully navigating the regulatory environment, opportunities to increase revenue, and access to personal protective equipment.

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