The DeKalb Difference Blog

Look At Us Campaign

For the second year in a row, Decide DeKalb Development Authority has celebrated Black History Month by highlighting business-owners and community leaders making a difference in DeKalb County with the Look at Us campaign.

“Small businesses, nonprofits and public service entities have significant economic impact on the DeKalb community,” says Dorian DeBarr, President of Decide DeKalb. “From job creation and innovation to a high quality of life, we’re fortunate to have amazing business leaders who choose DeKalb for their place of business. At Decide DeKalb, we’re committed to facilitating economic development in DeKalb County and Black History Month gives us a special reason to celebrate the resiliency of our Black leaders and entrepreneurs and the contributions they make to our community.”

Meet Decide DeKalb’s 2023 Look At Us businesses:

Al Edwards is founder and chief executive officer of Corporate Environmental Risk Management, LLC (CERM), a regional engineering, environmental, and program management firm that was started nearly 30 years ago in the South DeKalb Business Incubator. “It’s programs like these that truly set businesses up for success,” he says.

Cynthia Hernandez founded The Cereal Lab in 2018 to unite Atlanta through the power of America’s favorite morning meal. Her mission is to spark joy and nostalgic memories while bringing friends, family, and communities together to enjoy delicious cereal treats. The wife, mother, foodie, and travel addict says, “Being a small business owner can be challenging. Being a black, women-owned business owner adds even more pressure. However, I love what I do, and I love being based in Decatur. This is where I hope to grow my business into something special.”  

DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department Deputy Chief Tremayne McMurray is a native of Dekalb County with 25 years in the fire service. He currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Planning and Risk Reduction. As a subject matter expert, he’s assisted with the design and implementation of departmental promotional testing procedures around the country.

Pastor Jamal Bryant is many things: visionary, civil rights activist, community organizer, presidential lifetime achievement award recipient, 2X Grammy award-winning artist, and Senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia. With an undeniable gift to bridge generations from the Civil Rights movement to the Black Lives Matter era, Dr. Bryant incites change in the faith community. He meets people where they are to help them realize and activate success in their lives. His ministry has become an incubator for entrepreneurs, homeowners, and the like.

Rodney Bullard, CEO of The Same House, is a proud resident of DeKalb County. A public benefit corporation, The Same House is a community-driven movement addressing the social and economic challenges facing our world today. Its mission is rooted in the values of the “Beloved Community”, communicated through the uplifting words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Congressman John Lewis. The Same House aims to bring all people together to help bridge divides, practice compassion, and collectively address our communities needs – particularly around economic opportunity and social connection. Bullard previously served as Vice President of Global Corporate Social Responsibility at Chick-fil-A, Inc., and Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation.

Mariana Walker is the owner of Fitly Spoken, LLC, a pediatric speech and language therapy service, supporting children with communication delays and disorders. What sets Walker, a native daughter of DeKalb, apart from other speech and language therapists is her energetic personality. Mariana’s communication, creativity, passion, and ability to develop a personal relationship with her patients and provide individual plans of care for her clients and their families is what generates a proven success path for her business.

Akissi Y. Stokes and Karim J. Nelson are a dynamic husband and wife team and Co-founders of WUNDERGRUBS, LLC – an AgTech social enterprise that specializes in the production of edible insects as a healthy and sustainable alternative protein. The proud Emory University alumni are  dedicated to the awareness and promotion of insects as healthy food for humans, feed for animals, and fertilizer for soil and as a means to solve some of the world’s food scarcity issues related to climate events.

Kendra Price is an Atlanta native who came to DeKalb County early in her life and has been making a mark. She currently works in Emory’s Office of Government and Community Affairs as the Associate Director of Community Programs at Emory University where she’s been able to mesh her passion and work into one, serving the DeKalb County community. Kendra was instrumental in making Emory University a polling location for DeKalb County. She worked with DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond on a vaccination event at Stonecrest Mall and created a partnership between DeKalb County and the Emory University and healthcare system.

Geoffrey Loften, Decide DeKalb’s manager of Equitable Economic Development Programs, says that while “Black businesses have been historically marginalized, the Look At Us campaigncelebrates Black entrepreneurs who have taken a leap of faith and the leaders who are making positive strides in the county.”

As an economic development authority, Decide DeKalb has resources for small and medium-sized businesses. The authority takes a two-pronged approach using its Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) services as well as its Equitable Programming department to help bridge gaps and serve businesses unique needs.

If you’re inspired by these DeKalb leaders and entrepreneurs to open a business in DeKalb County, take the first step today! Reach out to Katrina Young, the Business Retention and Expansion Manager of Decide DeKalb, to begin your venture.