Business Spotlight - May 2022

Business Spotlight - May 2022

Greeting Friends and Neighbors:

The Riverworks Business Development HUB provides technical assistance to local entrepreneurs and businesses. Our business development specialists provide business coaching and strategic budgeting sessions to help find funding and grant opportunities that fit their needs. Our monthly business spotlight highlights some of the amazing work and accomplishments of these entrepreneurs. Please check out these businesses and support local whenever possible!

To learn more about the Riverworks Business Development HUB click here.


This month's business spotlight highlights a local pillar of the 53206 neighborhood: Coffee Makes You Black (CMYB). Founded by serial entrepreneurs and Milwaukee natives, Bradley and Laurie Thurman, CMYB has been located at 2803 N Teutonia Avenue since its inception in 2001. The Thurmans has always had a mind for business and a heart for their community. Mr. Thurman served as a firefighter for 16 years and has owned a lock company, a bed and breakfast, a power washing company and a pizza restaurant. CMYB is the Thurmans' best-known venture in Milwaukee and arguably one of the most influential businesses in the 53206 community. Customers come from all around the city to experience the homey atmosphere and top rate, southern-inspired cuisine. In addition to the coffee shop, CMYB has served as a gathering place and incubation space for local politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, community development agencies and more. The Thurmans have developed a culture built upon collaboration, inclusion and a passion for realizing positive change in Milwaukee. It was this culture that inspired Djdade Denson and Daniel Armstrong to get involved with CMYB. Both young men are Milwaukee natives, Marquette alums and have a long-standing history with Mr. Thurman. They share Mr. Thurman’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the community, so much so that they approached him in 2021 to ask for business mentorship. Mr. Thurman gradually brought them in on the business operations and they are now co-owners of CMYB. Denson and Armstrong bring a fresh perspective and knowledge that beautifully complements the Thurmans' wisdom and expertise. When asked what it means to now be an official part of the restaurant that fed him since he was a kid, Denson said:

“It means a lot to be a part of this business because CMYB has always been more than a restaurant to me and so many others. It’s a hub for community change, a place to share new ideas and always gives you an opportunity to meet new people. To now be a part of creating that change is powerful.”

Now, after 22 years of community edification, CMYB is undergoing some exciting new developments over the next year! With business coaching and connection to financial resources through Riverworks’ Business Development HUB, the Thurmans, Denson and Armstrong have big plans to expand CMYB’s impact in the community by increasing their restaurant capacity, expanding their collaborative spaces and more.


30 Stories for 30 Years: This year marks 30 years of Riverworks Development Corporation's efforts to support residents and businesses in Harambee, Riverwest, and the surrounding communities. We have been honored to be at the table with a great variety of local and national partners and supporters, and look forward to continuing to serve this community with you all for many years to come. Please follow along with us throughout 2022 as we share stories and memories from the past three decades.

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