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U-M Ross Business + Impact
U-M Ross Business + Impact
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Revitalizing Roots: A Detroit Native’s Experience From Family Legacy to Community Impact

by Samuel Ibri (Ross BBA ’26)

Detroit was the destination where my parents and grandparents settled after emigrating from the Middle East. My grandfather opened the first Lebanese deli shop in Greektown in 1970, and I always loved hearing his stories. As a Detroit native, I have always had the desire to work and make a change throughout the city I have called home. Through the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project’s summer internship program, Impact Studio for Local Business, I am proud to say that I am now working with the small businesses that I used to drive past, helping entrepreneurs like my grandfather to make key changes to their businesses and support Detroit neighborhoods.

The diverse people of this resurging city have unique characteristics dating back to the city’s roots; pure grit, resilience, and tenacity. These traits have shaped my family and me into who we are today. Importantly, no one becomes successful alone. It has been incredibly rewarding to become part of the support network for a few Detroit small businesses and to unite my Detroit community with my Ann Arbor community. 

My work at DNEP consists of helping a portfolio of businesses become more profitable by focusing their marketing efforts on generating repeat sales from existing clients and streamlining backend technologies. One of my favorite projects this summer was working with Jocelyn, the owner of a Detroit bakery specializing in customized pastries. Leveraging the interdisciplinary backgrounds of our team from business to public policy, we have crafted unique solutions that will give Jocelyn’s business a competitive edge and promote sustainable growth. So far, we have implemented a loyalty and referral program, optimized the search engine optimization for her Google business profile, and created pricing brackets on her website.

Interns brainstorming ideas for a project in the +Impact Studio at Ross

One of the key lessons I have learned in my consulting work so far is that it’s important to take the first step, even when the path ahead is unclear. Consulting for small businesses means dealing with a wide range of issues, each requiring a unique approach. Initially, stepping into unfamiliar territory and making decisions without a clear roadmap was daunting. However, I learned the value of taking initiative, asking questions, and seeking out resources, and most importantly, delivering high-quality work that is representative of my abilities. This mindset aligns with a phrase from our managing director, Christie Baer, that has really stuck out to me, “Good work is rewarded with more work.” So far, I have learned that the field of consulting provides continuous growth and learning. Every successful project leads to new challenges and opportunities, pushing me to refine my skills and expand my knowledge base, reinforcing the idea that excellence leads to further opportunities. It also reflects the spirit of Detroit.

Interns experience their first site visit with DNEP client, Featherstone Garden

Samuel Ibri is a rising junior at the Ross School of Business.

Along with being able to help guide like-minded entrepreneurs, working at the Impact Studio means getting to experience summertime in Ann Arbor. So far, I’ve made the trip to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, the Peony Garden at the Arb, and kayaked down the Huron River at Argo Park. I’ve also explored the University of Michigan’s art, natural history, and archaeological museums, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, experienced a jazz club for the first time at the famous Blue Llama, and enjoyed meals and games of cornhole at new restaurants on Main Street. If you ever have the chance to spend some time here in the summer, I can confidently say that it is 100% worthwhile.

As Detroit grows and revitalizes, the diligent efforts of its residents and small business owners continue to drive further progress and development. Detroit’s history of resilience and innovation proves that good work leads to new opportunities, propelling the city toward a brighter, more prosperous future. Through my work with DNEP, I am proud to play a small part in building that future.