Keep Calm and Carry On: Detroit At Work Helps Small Businesses and Workers Find New Opportunities

Within every crisis lies an opportunity and the deeper the crisis, the greater the opportunity can be. Sometimes it may be difficult to see the opportunity as the immediate calamity takes center stage but it is there–waiting to be revealed. A crisis can be defined as a vitally important or decisive state of things, a point at which change must come.

Presently, we are in the midst of a crisis.

As Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19) sweeps through the country at an alarming rate, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.

The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.

If you’re a small business owner you may be faced with making decisions that you never foresaw having to make. Do you layoff employees or have them use paid time off? Is your business an essential or nonessential business? Or what if you are in one of those sectors deemed essentials then you may need to hire more employees to meet the pressing demands. What is Work Share and am I eligible for it?

If you’re a person whose job has shut down you may find yourself in need of employment. How do you even begin to find work when there’s a shelter in place order in effect?

These can be confusing times and people are in need of guidance in finding the opportunity within the crisis.

Detroit at Work Career Centers are very much open and here to help employers and workers navigate these new roads they may find themselves on.

Nicole Sherard Freeman, Executive Director, Workforce Development & Detroit at Work

According to Nicole Sherard-Freeman, Executive Director, Workforce Development & Detroit at Work there are dozens of Detroit area businesses that have immediate employment needs. “We are working to assist Detroit based small businesses with filling open positions that have increased due to more demand and also backfill positions that may have been recently vacated,” Sherard-Freeman says.

Through the generous funding provided by DTE Energy, Detroit at Work and the City of Detroit are working to help close the human resource (HR) gap for Detroit area small businesses by utilizing a third-party company called Everything HR.

“DTE is supporting a number of initiatives to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Dave Meador, Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer of DTE. “Because we want to ensure the city can stay on a path to economic recovery. Small businesses and all those they employ are being hit extremely hard, and the DTE Foundation is proud to assist in providing services to help alleviate problems and open access to other resources so they can move ahead — even in the midst of a very difficult time. “

Charity Dean, Director of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity (CRIO) is leading a city-wide effort with Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and others to help small businesses take advantage of loan and grant opportunities coming from local philanthropic partners like TechTown, and federal funding from groups including the Small Business Association (SBA). Sherard-Freeman works along with Dean and others to build solutions small businesses need. The City and its partners aim to make it easy for small businesses to survive and thrive during this crisis.

“One of the most important things we can do as we face this crisis is to help keep Detroit’s economy afloat, said Sherard-Freeman. “We have to ensure that employers can access talent right away and by helping small business community solve problems they don’t realize they have.”


Detroit employers in need of assistance should do three things:

  • Contact Detroit at Work’s Ready-to-Hire Team if they have jobs to fill at 313-788-1359.
  • If they need help navigating the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance UIA and Work Share process send an email to Everything HR or call 586-461-1400.
  • If they have other HR needs in their business email


Presently there are more than 150 COVID-19 related jobs available right now and that number grows daily. Citizens looking for work are encouraged to contact Detroit at Work for assistance in finding the right opportunity for your skillset.

Detroit at Work has expanded its services offered via its call center and website and they have professionals available to help workers position themselves to take advantage of these emerging opportunities.

A few more things employers should keep in mind: Do not lay employees off. Instead, put employees on leave so that they may take advantage of any federal funding that is forthcoming. And keep track of all COVID-19 related expenses that have incurred since March 13.

Although the Detroit at Work Career Centers remain open, they are limiting the number of visitors to follow the COVID-19 safety guidelines.  If you need help finding work, or other employment related assistance call 313 962-9675 or visit them online at



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