New Nonprofit Oakland Thrive Launched to Help Small Businesses

(Oakland County, March 8, 2023)

Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter joined business and community leaders today to announce the formation of Oakland Thrive, a nonprofit organization that will help entrepreneurs and small businesses in Oakland County with a special focus on businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans.

Oakland Thrive’s flagship program is Business Forward, a program announced by County Executive Coulter a year ago in partnership with the Oakland County Economic Development Department to engage the county’s 36,000-plus small businesses with expertise and resources in the communities where they are located. The nonprofit allows greater flexibility, sustainability, and scope when it comes to helping small businesses succeed.

“The Business Forward program has already had a significant impact in building meaningful networks with Oakland County’s small businesses, reaching more than 2,200 entrepreneurs, mom and pop shops and retailers in its first year,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “With Oakland Thrive’s expertise and leadership, I expect those relationships will grow and benefit the county’s business owners, their customers and the overall economy.”

“Oakland County has many successful, thriving businesses that drive the state’s economy. But we don’t always think about the thousands of small businesses that may have just a few employees, that are working hard to put food on their family’s table and who use their income to meet their basic needs,” said Oakland Thrive CEO Vicki Selva. “Our organization will proactively reach out to companies of all types to ensure an inclusive and vibrant economy and community.”

Oakland Thrive is working to bolster economic development throughout Oakland County, one of the most prosperous counties in the United States. While the county has communities that exceed the average household income, others are below the statewide income average. By connecting with small and micro businesses by providing support and services, Oakland Thrive will work to close prosperity gaps and level the playing field for all.

“We want Oakland County’s small businesses to not only feel supported, but to be supported. Oakland Thrive will do just that,” said Sean Carlson, deputy county executive and Oakland Thrive founding board member.  “There are many programs, resources, and opportunities to help businesses in Oakland County. But let’s face it, people running a business often don’t have the time to seek out these resources, if they even know they exist in the first place. Oakland Thrive will serve to connect these resources to the people who need them so that they can focus on running and growing their businesses.”

“Building a network of support for small business owners in Oakland County is a game changer for entrepreneurs like me,” said Shannon Steel, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and treasurer of Oakland Thrive. “As a young woman of color starting out in the business world, I know working with an organization like Oakland Thrive would have helped me find the tools and resources I needed to be successful.”

Oakland Thrive celebrated the launch on Wednesday morning at its headquarters in the Riker Building, 35 W. Huron St., Suite 201 in Pontiac.

“Having Oakland Thrive in Pontiac, to serve the entire county, will be wonderful for local businesses and our local economy,” said Commissioner Angela Powell, who represents pat of Pontiac. “By focusing on women, minorities and veterans, Oakland Thrive will help our diverse businesses with the tools they need to reach residents and visitors alike and let them prosper in our region.”

For more information, go to or call 248-602-0040.

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