Business, Change Agents, City Transformation, New Economy, News, Small Business

Existing Detroit businesses, here’s your chance at up to $100,000

Dave Egner of the New Economy Initiative announcing the NEIdeas challenge. Photo by Nick Hagen.

It’s often said there’s little to no attention paid to those who have tried to make it in the city for awhile. It too often seems like that new piece of equipment that could be transformative to their business is just out of reach for those who brush off their front sidewalks in a neighborhood getting ready to open every morning, invest without incentives and sometimes need to stretch to make payroll.

Thirty-two businesses are about to get a cash grant to help boost their business as part of the New Economy Initiative’s (NEI) NEIdeas challenge. The great thing is one of them could be you if you’re an existing business in the City of Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park.

If that’s you, or someone you know, here’s a chance at some help. First, your business needs to be three years old or older and located in one of the three aforementioned cities at least a year.

There are two types of awards for the NEIdeas program. There are 30 grants of $10,000 available to businesses that gross under $1 million annually with ideas to grow and two grants of $100,000 for businesses that gross between $1 million and $5 million that have ideas to make them grow “big.”

If a gross of $1 million to $5 million seems “large” to you, here’s a little perspective. The Small Business Administration considers a retail business “small” if they have $7 million or less in retail receipts annually.

If you’re interested get on the stick. If you’re looking for the $10k the deadline is June 5. It’s June 26 for the $100,000 award. Read on for more detail.

“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 David Egner, executive director of NEI. “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.”

The crowd listens to the announcement of NEIdeas in the Old Redford neighborhood of Detroit. Photo: Nick Hagen

The crowd listens to the announcement of NEIdeas in the Old Redford neighborhood of Detroit. Photo: Nick Hagen

It’s not just NEI alone bringing this challenge to the table. It is also working with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC).

“We work with small businesses every day through many of our programs,” said Waymon Guillebeaux, executive vice president, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “We are pleased that NEIdeas will help us connect more companies to the Detroit Business Support Network we convene, giving us more chances to help them grow.”

The application is now open online on as of this writing. Here’s here how you make it happen.

Put together 200 words, no more, that outline your idea. A jury will review your submission.  The winning ideas will be selected out of that pool.

Your submission will be judged on three criteria.

  • Impactful: Show us how your idea impacts profit, people, and/or place. The idea may be one that increases your business’s bottom line, positively affects your customers, clients, or community or can positively change your building, block, neighborhood or city. Don’t be afraid to be practical. Practical ideas are impactful too.
  • Courageous: Show us how your idea reinforces the passion for what you do. It may be one that allows your business to take a little more risk, challenges your vision for growth or encourages innovation.
  • Interesting: Show us an exciting idea and you are more likely to get our attention.

If you win you’ll be expected to attend events where you will be connected to other award winners and resources and share your story through the media.

$10,000 winners are to use their award within one year and make a report. Those who come out on top in the $100,000 challenge are to use their award in two years and make their report.

So get on it. You have a little less than a month. You have until June 5 to come up with 200 words if you’re looking for the $10k and June 26 for the $100,000 award.

If you win with those 200 words, that’s at least $50 a word. Sounds like a good deal.

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