Detroit ranks among the top five American cities that host “the largest number of minority-owned small businesses,” according to a 2017 Fortune report. The city’s varied redevelopment and investment initiatives have helped ensure that Detroit entrepreneurs maintain stability and have the opportunity to grow and thrive. Rivers Realty Group is one such business that has stood the test of time.
Established four decades ago by Ron Rivers, Rivers Realty Group is a family-owned real estate business, located in the heart of Detroit’s historic district. The company helps customers find their new homes, makes investor sales, provides relocation services, and manages properties. Rivers is the president of Rivers Realty and Rivers Investment Management. His daughter, Lauren Rivers, left corporate America to join her father at Rivers Realty in 2014, and is now managing broker. Although the company sprang from modest beginnings, initially operating within the Rivers’ family home, it has been able to expand on its own, as well as benefit from a number of programs designed to elevate small businesses in the area. One of those opportunities was provided by TechTown — which through its SWOT City program — assesses businesses, offers to coach and uses technology to assist with modernization and capacity building efforts.
Although TechTown has inspired the revitalization of many businesses in Detroit, a number of other supporters have made a commitment to keep small business owners thriving. For example, JP Morgan Chase, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Liberty Bank — known as the third largest Black-owned financial institution in the U.S. — support Detroit’s Entrepreneur of Color Fund, which grants small business loans, pre-development, and pre-construction loans up to $150,000. Goldman Sachs sponsors a small business initiative as well, which provides entrepreneurs with insight into strategic expansion, cash flow, and sustainability issues. The program boasts nearly more than 9,000 graduates, of which Rivers Realty is one.
“Rivers Investment and Rivers Realty are proud to have been a stabilizing force in Detroit’s history for nearly fifty years. Our businesses have managed and sold literally several hundreds of housing units, and impacted thousands of lives, representing a transformation of energy towards Detroit’s future,” Mr. Rivers said.
The company is the recent recipient of a Motor City Restore grant, which enables it to undergo substantial renovations. Lauren, who is overseeing the project, looks forward to a renovated façade, as well as a more vibrant, welcoming space.
“Our growth plan continues to be at the top of my agenda. I am proud and honored to have the history that we do in the city. You should be able to get excellent service in your community,” Ms. Rivers said.
Rivers went on to express tremendous pride in her father for being an important part of the fabric of Detroit, and for cementing “a piece of history that I get to keep.”
While much has changed since Rivers Realty Group was established in 1975, one thing remains the same. Mr. Rivers wants to continue to set an example for other entrepreneurs of color seeking to establish their own businesses.
“The greatest impact we have is to use our company’s example of operating with industry, honesty and truth,” Mr. Rivers said.
With this philosophy, Rivers Realty continues to leave an indelible footprint on Detroit’s real estate landscape.