More than 135 people, representing local businesses, communities, and city government, packed the Motor City Java & Tea House on the city’s far west side on Wednesday, April 16, for the unveiling of the New Economy Initiative’s NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth. A special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), New Economy Initiative (NEI), in partnership with Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, launched the challenge that will grant cash awards to 32 existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, which will total $500,000. The NEIdeas challenge will offer two types of awards: $10,000 for 30 businesses that gross under $1 million annually and $100, 000 for two businesses that gross more than $1 million, but under $5 million annually.
On hand to announce the initiative was David Egner, executive director, NEI. Joining Egner was Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; Mariam Noland, president, CFSEM; and Waymon Guillebeaux, executive vice president, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. Egner laid out the guidelines for the challenge as follows: Interested existing businesses in the aforementioned cities must submit, in 200 words or less, an idea of what they would do with the money that would take them to the next level. He pointed out that the application period for the challenge opens on Thursday, May 8.
The deadline for the $10,000 k Challenge is Thursday, June 5, and Thursday, June 26 for the $100 k Challenge. All applications/essays will be reviewed through a jury process. Subsequently, the $10 k winners will be announced in September and the $100 k winners in November. “While we recognize and support all the energy around Detroit’s start up scene, we feel it’s important to celebrate the small existing businesses across Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park that have been the cornerstone of their communities for years,” said Egner. “More importantly, by providing some capital assistance and connecting them to resources, we feel we can help them grow and create jobs, further strengthening their neighborhoods.”
Mayor Duggan agreed. “We are seeing more and more the impact small businesses are having in revitalizing Detroit’s economy, and programs like NEIdeas are a big part of the reason why,” Duggan said. “Today, there are thousands of small businesses in the city of Detroit that employ only one or two people. Receiving a strategic infusion of cash like this can be just the boost an existing small company needs to grow and create more jobs for our local economy.”
Trustees of the NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth were also introduced, which included Herman Moore, former Pro-Bowl wide receivers for the Detroit Lions; Leon Richardson, president & CEO ChemicoMays; Hiram E. Jackson, CEO, Real Times Media, publisher of the Michigan Chronicle; Mike Fezzey, president, Huntington National Bank Southeast Region; Lydia Gutierrez, president, Hacienda Foods; and Andrea Rush, founder and chairwoman, the Rush Group. “This is just a great way to spark the economy by supporting the entrepreneurs in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park,” said Moore. “It’s also a great way to encourage them to push through with growing their businesses.”
Existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park interested in applying for NEIdeas’ awards can log on to www. NEIdeasDetroit.org. Printed applications are available at more than 20 community organizations, associations and churches throughout Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. For more information about any aspect of NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth, call the NEI Hotline at 1. 844. 634.3327.