REVOLVE Guidebook


Whether starting a business, installing a public art project, restoring a building or promoting a neighborhood, the new REVOLVE Guidebook ( ) is a one-stop resource of practical how-to information for anyone seeking to revitalize a neighborhood.

Designed for a broad audience of entrepreneurs, artists, community organizers and building owners who share the goal of activating vacant space, it includes checklists, flow-charts, permits, license agreements and similar information in an easy-to-understand, ready-to-use format.

The Guidebook was developed specifically for Detroit, but much of the information is transferable to other cities or applications of urban revitalization.   And, while not all of the information is applicable to everyone, we believe that good things happen faster when people work together with a mutual understanding of the to-do list.

This is a living document so we ask everyone to share feedback and lessons learned by e-mailing us at so we may continually improve the guide.

Michael Forsyth
REVOLVE Detroit Program Manager 

Parkway Foods


Parkway Foods opened their doors at their new location in the Shops at Jefferson Village March 31, moving from their Riverbend Shopping Center location into a building formerly owned by Farmer Jack.

“Our new store has allowed us the space to do the updates we’ve always wanted,” said Manager and Partner of Parkway Foods, Louay Nona. “We now have a deli and wonderful floral department. In a few months we’ll also be opening a pharmacy.”

Parkway Foods is also a part-owner of the Shops and is looking forward to filling the vacant strip with additional businesses. A Dollar General is due to move in soon and it is Nona’s hope that by the end of the summer the other stores will be occupied as well.

Parkway Food’s dedication to Detroit is unwavering. It is committed to excellent service in the community it loves.

“I am so proud of the new store. We have had excellent feedback from our customers that followed us to this store, and new customers exclaim they will never go anywhere else to do their shopping. We are truly honored to serve the people of Detroit and hope that our presence here will encourage other businesses to move into the community as well,” Nona said.

The store’s devotion to fresh food is another key feature. Nona shared that at any given time owners and managers are onsite at the store to personally check the meat, produce and perishables to ensure everything is fresh and ready for customers.

“My policy is that if I wouldn’t take something home to my family I won’t sell it. We always have the freshest products for our customers,” Nona added.

With Detroit pride, fresh food, excellent customer service and an additional twenty staff members at the new location Parkway Foods is certain to flourish.

Join Parkway Foods for their Grand Opening event on May 12.

Mimi Pledl

Business Development Manager

CEO Spotlight: Fran Westbrooks BLVD Content


BLVD Content is a marketing and strategy company specializing in multicultural and Emerging markets. BLVD develops fully integrated marketing strategies and messaging for its clients so their brands can connect to and thrive in the culture of their unique market. BLVD Content’s solutions for their diverse clientele range from consumer, digital and social media strategy to strategic planning. CEO & Managing Partner Fran Westbrooks founded the company in 2012 and is headquartered in Detroit.

What made you decide to have your headquarters in Detroit?

I was born and raised in Detroit. I went to school out- of- state and had brief stints living in Los Angeles and New York, but my heart was always in Detroit. I couldn’t be happier to live here and have BLVD Content’s headquarters here. There’s something about this city that you just can’t pass up. There always has been, and always will be, such great spirit in Detroit.

How does having your headquarters in Detroit add to your success?

Detroit is a “white slate” in terms of innovation, growth, imagination and possibilities. All eyes are on Detroit right now, but in a good way. People see Detroit as an emerging market and city, and with the help of organizations like the DEGC, being in the hub of growth is essential to our success.

How do you want to impact Detroit in the future?

We want to help companies in the city as well as Fortune 500 companies refine their brands. We want to assist businesses of all sizes to grow, build relationships with consumers and be more innovative.

What is your company culture?

Our culture at BLVD is very unique. We have an incredibly collaborative team. Our staff consists of diverse talent from blended backgrounds. For example, our team consist of Social Media strategists, a former agency CEO, Digital strategists and even an architect, and because of those diverse backgrounds it gives us a unique understanding of urban strategy, which is a crucial part of our market.  I think that everyone is creative, no matter what their background or title is.

What do you find most exciting about the changing face of Detroit?

The interesting part of our business is developing diverse relationships among companies across cultures and audiences. The BLVD team has such a passion, vitality and pride for Detroit – it’s most exciting to help companies build these relationships and their brands.

Mark Denson
Business Attraction Manager

NEIdeas Challenge Will Accept Applications Beginning May 8


The “NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth” challenge will begin accepting applications May 8.  Small businesses located in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck that are at least three years old are eligible to apply for two types of awards:

  • $10,000 for businesses that gross under $1 million annually with ideas to grow
  • $100,000 for businesses that gross more than $1 million and under $5 million annually with ideas to grow “big”

Thirty applicants will be awarded $10,000 each and two businesses will receive $100,000 each.  In addition, all the business that apply for the challenge will gain connections to other small businesses and entrepreneurs, access to a network of business resources, and public exposure.

Applications are due June 5 for the $10,000 award and June 19 for the $100,000 award.  Online applications, and information on where to pick up physical applications, can be found at .  Recipients of the $10,000 awards will be notified in September and recipients of the $100,000 awards will be notified in November.

NEIdeas is a partnership of DEGC and the New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Spencer Olinek
Business Development Manager

Contractor Spotlight: SDG Associates – Geoffrey Harrison, Principal


Formerly known as Sims-Varner & Associates, SDG Associates (SDG) is a comprehensive and diverse architectural, planning and program management firm with 50 years of leadership and design experience. Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, the firm has designed some of the most recognizable structures in the city. It provides designs for a variety of markets such as civic, cultural, education (K-12 and higher education), infrastructure and transportation, corporate facilities and parking structures. Additionally, SDG has a broad portfolio of aviation project work that spans several states and includes Detroit Metro Airport.

SDG’s operations are managed by two principals, supported by a team of architects, architectural designers and an urban planner. Principal Geoffrey Harrison supervises the majority of the work at SDG.

What are some of your notable projects?

We’re best known for our design of the Charles Wright Museum. Another notable project that is past and present for us is Cobo Center. We began working with them in 1989 and now we’re on the frontline with the vision for its current renovations.

Tell me more about your current involvement on Cobo.

We’re in the midst of several Cobo projects including the renovations of the middle level and the east side of the building. The east side of the building renovations involve the interiors, meeting rooms and concourse. The most spectacular feature that I’m looking forward to is a major entrance canopy (where the freeway goes under the building). This space will include a video wall that will be about 200 feet by 50 feet. In addition, we have plans for expanding the entry atrium on the north and adding several video walls there as well. The appearance of Cobo by the end of 2014 is going to be incredible.

Any other exciting projects you are working on in Detroit?

We are continuing services to Greektown Casino which is always exciting. We’re also kicking off an improvement project for the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, a beautiful English gothic church. We will be working on some renovations for the church as well as additions to the north and south. We are looking forward to improving upon such a wonderful building. We also have some things in the works with the Detroit Housing Commission.

Why did you select Detroit as your headquarters?

Our founder Howard F. Sims, a Detroit native, founded the company in 1964, so this year is our fiftieth anniversary. Since the seventies we’ve been based in downtown Detroit. He was a Detroit native, and it was always his intent to provide architectural services to Detroit.

There are so many wonderful projects we’ve had the pleasure to work on and so many more to come. Detroit was an exciting place to be in the seventies and it is an even more exciting time now.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?

Detroit is right on the edge of really taking off. It’s such a great place to be. I grew up in England in Liverpool in the sixties and at that time that was the place to be.  In 2014 I truly feel that Detroit is the place to be.

Over the long term we are excited to continue creating the vision for wonderful places throughout the city for residents to enjoy.

What is the SDG Design culture all about?

We pride ourselves in quality innovative design, practical and cost-efficient construction, in addition to our exceptional and timely delivery of our services. Our team is fully dedicated and committed to ensuring that our projects are all of exceptional quality and our clients are completely satisfied.

Tiffini D. Smith

Communications Director