DEGC and REVOLVE Livernois to transform Livernois Avenue Leveraging private capital to help Michigan small businesses grow


Businesses come in all shapes and sizes and in my business that requires a range of programs to keep Michigan’s economy growing. Too often when you hear about economic development the focus is on corporate names we all know.
But most of MEDC’s work is in helping smaller businesses to get beyond tough situations that can limit their progress. It’s what we call economic gardening – an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within.
New Center Stamping, Inc., in Detroit, illustrates one aspect of our economic gardening approach. It’s been serving the auto industry since 1992 with low-volume production, stamping steel and aluminum bumpers, hoods, doors, lift gates, body sides, fenders and radiator supports. The company employs 130 today and expects to add another 45 over the next five years with five new employeeds coming in the very near term.
Their growth has been fueled by rising new car sales that have increased demand for the various auto parts the company makes. But this doesn’t mean their path has been easy. We have helped NCS, through the MEDC Collateral Support Program, tosecure financing to purchase additional stamping equipment it needs to expand; which in turn, increases efficiencies, grows profits and creates new jobs as their sales volumes have increased.
Richard Monkaba, president and general manager, said the state’s assistance is crucial to his company’s growth prospects:
“The collateral support provided by MEDC was instrumental in facilitating our loan with Comerica Bank for a new sheet metal stamping press line. The resulting capital investment will allow New Center Stamping to become much more competitive, grow our business and create a significant number of new jobs for Detroit inner city residents.”
I’m happy to report Mr. Monkaba is also finding MEDC to be helpful beyond the collateral support. “The team continues to provide us with ongoing assistance and guidance as we execute our strategic growth plan,” he said.
Today we deploy the Collateral Support program in ways that are very different than when it was first started four years ago. Those days were a time of serious economic distress in our state. Michigan automotive suppliers suffered through some roiling financial ups and downs over the past few years. When trouble hit the auto industry, it didn’t discriminate and even hit many well-managed companies hard. Companies that had never missed a payment saw loans called in as the value of their equipment and property dropped, some by as much as half. This loss of collateral value spelled disaster as they needed loan support to maintain cash flow and operational needs.
To meet this crisis, the MEDC created the Collateral Support Program in the summer of 2009. It would provided loan support assistance to small businesses with little or no collateral when looking for financing to purchase new equipment, property, etc. The program enlisted Michigan banks in a public-private partnership to help sustain these companies during this period.
The program proved to be very successful. In fact, the U.S. Treasury launched its similar State Small Business Credit Initiative the following year. To date, this effort has allocated $1.5 billion nationally to all U.S States and territories, with Michigan receiving $79 million. Between our state-funded and SSBCI-funded programs, we have provided financing assistance to 131 companies and leveraged $249 million in private capital.
We at MEDC talk often about economic gardening and Collateral Support is one of many programs that provide big advantages to Michigan businesses at very little cost to taxpayers. It was started in a time of real economic difficulty and today is a working model of our public-private partnerships that help our businesses to grow and create new jobs.
For information about MEDC capital access programs, please visit

ArtPlace America recently announced the award of a $200,000 grant to Detroit Economic Growth Association for REVOLVE Detroit to activate empty storefronts along Livernois Avenue with art and related activities. The project was chosen from over 1,200 applications as an exceptional example of creative place-making.
REVOLVE Livernois will match world-class designers and artists with local university students, residents and entrepreneurs. Artists will create temporary and permanent installations for vacant storefronts and public spaces. Along with other art-related events, the installations will continue to revitalize Detroit’s historic Avenue of Fashion. This summer, a local panel will select five artists with national reputations, five local artists, and several university students to create original works inspired by the district and its rich legacy. The installations will be displayed early next fall.
ArtPlace America is a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies committed to accelerating creative placemaking — putting art at the heart of a portfolio of strategies designed to revitalize communities. This is ArtPlace America’s third cycle of grant awards, and Detroit was one of 54 organizations that earned an award.
“The Avenue of Fashion has and always will be one of Detroit’s premier cultural and entertainment districts,” said Olga Stella, vice president, business development, at Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC). “Our goal is to show how the arts can serve as a catalyst for community and economic revitalization.”
Kim Swift, an artist with the studio We Came In Peace and creative director for the project said, “Detroit is rapidly evolving as a cultural hotbed for artists and young entrepreneurs from all over the world. The Avenue of Fashion is a perfect place for a diverse group of local and international artists, architects and designers to come together with the community and rediscover the greatness that’s already there. By connecting the emerging with the established to create spaces and art that engages, inspires and builds commercial interest, we aim to foster a climate of possibility and strengthen the fabric of the community.”
Kim Tandy, program manager at University Commons, said, “Livernois Avenue has a great tradition of art, fashion and music, and we are very pleased to be able to showcase the work of artists from other parts of the country and the world with some of the great work of Detroit artists. Detroit ArtPlace projects will help us continue the momentum we have built for reinvigorating this important district of Detroit. Watch for more to come.”
Virginia Stanard, director of Urban Design for the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, a nonprofit architecture and design firm that partners with University of Detroit Mercy commented on the revitalization initiative, said, “It’s been really great. There’s so much momentum with the announcement of REVOLVE Detroit initiative and the Light Up Livernois. Everything is happening really quickly. We are really excited. Working with the architect and design school at University of Detroit Mercy, we are really excited to have our students be a part of Livernois.”
Rip Rapson, chair of ArtPlace America’s Presidents’ Council and president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation said, “ArtPlace America recognizes the central role arts and cultural activities can have in the revitalization of American cities. With this grant award ArtPlace America is directing individual project support to scores of creative, high-impact projects throughout the country.”
REVOLVE activities along Livernois Avenue are part of a collaborative effort among government and nonprofit agencies, businesses, anchor institutions such as University of
Detroit-Mercy and Marygrove College, and University Commons community organization. The initiative is supporting ongoing projects that are revitalizing this important district of Detroit.
One of the consulting project managers on the Livernois project is Mosaic Urban Partners, an advisory services firm that specializes in the regeneration of urban neighborhoods throughout the country. Mosaic has worked on a number of projects in Detroit and will also provide national best practices expertise on creative placemaking and arts-based revitalization projects.

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