Annual TechTown event moves online in efforts to continue celebrating city's entrepreneurial spirit

If there’s a silver lining in live events being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps it lies in the fact that for some, when an event that typically sells out becomes a virtual one, there are no capacity restrictions that then might limit attendance.

That’s certainly the case for TechTown Detroit’s Toast of the Town, an annual benefit and award ceremony from the small business incubator and accelerator located in New Center.

The nonprofit organization has announced that the event, which routinely sells out year after year, will be accessible online and free to attend – although donations are encouraged.

"Our entrepreneurial community is hard at work, and we are not going to let COVID-19 stop that community from achieving its dreams or goals," says Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown.

"This is why events like these are so important — to acknowledge the achievements and accomplishments of our small business champions and to continue to encourage and empower entrepreneurs during these difficult and uncertain times. They haven’t given up, and neither will we."

The event, which is being touted as a "virtual celebration of Detroit’s entrepreneurial spirit," is scheduled from 4-5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1.

TechTown will present Salute Awards to the Detroit businesses Mature and Detroit Maid, a menswear retail store in the Fisher Building and a residential and commercial cleaning business, respectively. Each has previously utilized TechTown’s small business services and programming.

The organization will also hand out its first-ever Marlowe Stoudamire Small Business Champion Award, named in honor of the Detroit entrepreneur who died earlier this year from COVID-19. Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative, is the recipient.

Additional plans include remarks from Staebler and spotlights on their Professional Services Network and the city’s Detroit Means Business initiative.

"Our mission to support small business owners and entrepreneurs has never been more important, as nearly one in three small businesses currently are not operating," says Staebler.

"There is no more 'back to normal.' We’ve got work to do."

Visit TechTown Detroit online to register for Toast of the Town.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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