$8.8 Million Grant Fuels Inclusive Entrepreneurship for Local Businesses

Caption: Detroit awardees- Union Heritage, CircNova, Dunamis Charge

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) are championing economic equity with the recent announcement of eight Inclusive Entrepreneurship Support Grants (IESG) recipients. These grants, totaling $8.8 million, represent a strategic investment in dismantling barriers for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators in marginalized communities. By fostering an environment of opportunity, the program not only fuels economic growth but also empowers individuals to transform their aspirations into tangible success stories, strengthening Michigan’s economy from within.

“The Inclusive Entrepreneurship Support Grant program is part of our work to support every Michigan entrepreneur and innovator as they chase their next big idea in Michigan. Together, these grants will help us unleash Michigan’s ingenuity, grow our economy, and build the future of sustainability, affordable housing, health sciences, and clean energy. Let’s keep working together to ensure Michigan is the best place to start a business and innovate,” Governor Whitmer said.

The Innovative Economic Development Program (IESG) is a $10 million initiative that was made possible by the collaborative effort of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the community. The MEDC was inundated with an impressive 620 applications, collectively requesting a staggering $580 million in funding. These applications presented comprehensive strategies addressing crucial economic development challenges in Michigan, spanning vital areas such as clean energy, infrastructure, post-secondary education attainment, talent attraction and retention, healthcare innovation, childcare, and urban and rural future mobility.

“The Inclusive Entrepreneurship Support Grant recipients will drive impact in some of the state’s key strategic priorities, from clean energy to affordable housing. This was a very highly competitive application process, and we are proud to support the growth of these eight grantees. Still, work remains to provide future opportunities to Michiganders and businesses, and Team Michigan remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring anyone can ‘Make It in Michigan,” Quentin L. Messer, Jr. MEDC CEO said.

After allocating $500,000 to the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance and reserving $200,000 for program administration, three of the eight deserving recipients were based in Detroit. They will distribute the remaining $8.8 million to further their impactful initiatives. These initiatives, ranging from clean energy solutions to biotech advancements, are set to make a significant difference in their respective fields and communities.

Detroit Awardees included:

Dunamis Charge ($2.5 million): The Detroit-based developer of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions is expanding its operations to better serve the community. As part of this expansion, the company is also focusing on enhancing its community outreach initiatives and increasing its efforts toward job creation.

CircNova ($1 million): This Detroit biotechnology startup utilizes cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology to drive its drug discovery efforts. It has received support to establish a state-of-the-art laboratory and recruit essential personnel to further its research and development initiatives.

“Awarded funds support the launch of CircNova’s laboratory including research director and lab technical staff. This award also enables the hiring of our full-time software developer, responsible for the design and build of our industry-groundbreaking NovaEngine,” Crystal Brown, owner and CEO of CircNova, said.

Union Heritage ($500,000): Detroit-based early-stage investor is expanding its team and services to provide culturally competent support to Michigan startups. This includes offering mentorship, funding, and resources tailored to the unique needs and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the region. This expansion aims to further bolster the local startup ecosystem and drive innovation and economic growth in Michigan.

For more information on the MEDC and their initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org.

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