Motor City Match Grant Winners Bring New Services, Arts to Detroit Neighborhoods

MCM winner 161028

Mayor Mike Duggan recently announced six Detroit small businesses that will receive between $10,000 and $80,000 of Motor City Match grant funding to help them start or expand in Detroit’s neighborhood corridors. This round’s grant winners include an arts center, health and wellness businesses, innovative restaurants and even a gluten-free marshmallow company.

“The businesses we’re announcing today are the types of establishments that people expect when they think of a strong community,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “These Detroiters are proving that our neighborhoods are great places to do business. If you have an idea for a business, we want to help make it happen in Detroit.”

Motor City Match is Detroit’s signature small business development initiative. The program connects new and expanding businesses with Detroit real estate opportunities and provides them with the funding and technical support needed to help them succeed. Each quarter, up to $500,000 in grant dollars is available in addition to business planning classes and other technical assistance.

The program has helped nearly 500 businesses since its launch last year, two-thirds of which are owned by Detroiters, and more than 70 percent are minority-owned. The $2.3 million in grants awarded over the course of five award rounds have helped leverage a total of $14 million in investment to help grow Detroit neighborhood businesses.

About the Round 5 Grant Winners

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art – $80,000 Grant Winner

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art presents diverse, multi-disciplinary art experiences and serves to promote and perpetuate the cultural legacy of African-American and African diasporic art. Owner George N’Namdi is seeking to open a second location at 4230 Grand River Ave that will include an art incubator, co-working space, gallery and educational platform that connects creatives to business opportunities.

The Wise Decision – $65,000 Grant Winner

The Wise Decision is a full-service health and fitness business that offers customized fitness training, nutrition and weight management counseling including healthy cooking classes, and corrective exercise clinics designed to reduce common injuries. Owner Sterling Wise is a certified personal trainer and fitness professional and his wife Kamelia Wise is a Doctor of Physical Therapy. They have owned The Wise Decision for seven years and are opening a new location at 7640 Kercheval Ave.

Plum Health Direct Primary Care – $50,000 Grant Winner

Plum Health Direct Primary Care is a new Detroit business that will provide an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service model of health care. For a monthly fee, Direct Primary Care members receive primary health care services that are tailored to their individual needs – including annual check-ups, urgent care services as well as direct and unrestricted access to their doctor through call, text, email or in-person visits. The business will locate at 607 Shelby St.

The Kenilworth Club – $50,000 Grant Winner

The Kenilworth Club is a neighborhood restaurant and bar that includes a food incubator and restaurant accelerator, seeking to open at 9425 John R St. The farm-to-table restaurant will serve New Orleans-inspired cuisine with a West African twist, and ingredients will be sourced from a 1.5-acre community urban agriculture garden located directly behind the space.

Social Sushi – $45,000 Grant Winner

In addition to fresh, quality Japanese cuisine, Social Sushi focuses on creating a space for strangers to feel open to connect with other people. By hiring young people, returning citizens, and local creatives, the business wants their combined passion to be an element of the space. The business will locate at 16647 Livernois, next to Live6, in a previous Motor City Match winner’s space and across the street from University of Detroit Mercy.

The Detroit Marshmallow Company. $10,000 Grant Winner.

The Detroit Marshmallow Company produces gluten-free marshmallows currently sold at Eastern Market and other local food markets. They are seeking to open a production facility at 17215 Mack Ave. that aims to be the only dedicated gluten-free kitchen in the city. The kitchen will also be shared with other local small batch producers.

The next application window for building and business owners to apply to Motor City Match will be open from December 1 to January 1. Application details are available at

Michael Forsyth
Director of Small Business Services


DEGC Hires Two Executives, Launches New Strategic Business Development Initiative

Peter H. Chapman, executive vice president for business development
Peter H. Chapman, executive vice president for business development

Peter H. Chapman has been named executive vice president for business development at DEGC and will lead its newly revamped business development department. Aaron Turk will be the new senior executive for strategy and business development. Chapman is the former deputy city manager for economic development and housing for the city of Norfolk, Virginia. Turk formerly was a project leader at The Boston Consulting Group.

The reconstituted business development department will focus on aggressively selling Detroit as a destination for investment from targeted industries and markets; deepening the capacity of the organization to provide turnkey support to drive investment; and strengthening the existing business retention and expansion program.

As DEGC develops sector-based strategies that target its business development efforts, Chapman and Turk will take a collaborative approach with DEGC’s existing stakeholders and partners. Enhancing DEGC’s business development efforts while maintaining its existing real estate and small business efforts will expand the organization’s ability to deliver jobs for the people of Detroit and investment throughout the city. DEGC is actively securing new revenue sources to fund the increased activity.

“Historically DEGC has focused on real estate development; responding to inquiries from national firms around expansion opportunities in Detroit; and meeting the needs of our existing business base,” said Rodrick Miller, DEGC president and CEO.

“In the past few years, we have increased the emphasis on growing Detroit’s small businesses, both startups and existing businesses. The growing spotlight on Detroit and recent significant investments from around the globe underscore how the time is right to drive the local market’s performance rather than just respond to it. These new executives will lead that effort,” said Miller.

Chapman has more than 20 years’ experience in economic development, having held key leadership roles in Denver, Colorado, and Richmond, Virginia, in addition to his most recent post in Norfolk.

Among his successes include launching a campaign that helped to bring 3,000 financial services jobs to Norfolk. In Richmond, he directed the city’s expansion and retention efforts targeting global health care and pharmaceutical firms.

Chapman holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Wesleyan University and earned a master’s degree in public policy and urban economic development from Tufts University.

As a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group, Turk has expertise in industries that have great potential for growth in Detroit, including automotive, financial services, health care and consumer goods.

Prior to management consulting, Turk served nearly 10 years in the U.S. Navy as both a naval aviator – deploying worldwide in support of combat and humanitarian missions – and a foreign liaison officer at the Pentagon.

Turk graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Economics and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Tiffini Smith

Director of Human Resources

Michael Forsyth named to Crain’s 40 Under 40

Michael ForsythDEGC’s Director of Small Business Services Michael Forsyth was named to Crain’s 40 Under 40 for his role in opening the expanding Detroit City Distillery.

Detroit City Distillery was started by Forsyth and a group of friends turned business partners in the Eastern Market district two years ago. Since then, the business has expanded to the former Stroh’s Ice Cream factory near Gratiot Avenue. The factory is expected to expand production “tenfold,” said Forsyth.

Forsyth said that his experiences at DEGC have greatly helped the growth of Detroit City Distillery.

“Working at DEGC and starting up the Distillery has helped me see both sides to starting a business,” said Forsyth. “At DEGC we help people start their businesses and I now understand what that is like to open with limited funds and navigating the permitting process.”

At DEGC Forsyth helped launch Revolve, a program focused on pop-up retail, which eventually evolved into Motor City Match. In its first full year, Motor City Match awarded $2 million in grants that contributed to $13 million in investment that helped 385 entrepreneurs across the city.

“There is a great entrepreneurial spirit in Detroit and I am proud to be a part of that,” said Forsyth.

D2D Buyer Ready Business: ISG Global – Julius Bender, President

D2D Buyer Ready Business- ISG Global - Julius Bender

ISG Global is an IT network integration firm. The company’s specialties involve technology integration and security solutions. The 12-year-old, Detroit-based firm is dedicated to doing work in the city and is led by founder and president Julius Bender.

What is the history and background of ISG Global?

I saw a change in the direction the IT industry was going and wanted to be a part of it, so I founded ISG Global. The company became CCTV-certified so that we could provide the best security solutions to stay up-to-date in the market. Our company has taken advantage of all the wonderful opportunities here in Detroit and metro Detroit and continues to  thrive.

What are some of ISG Global’s notable clients?

We’ve done a lot of work in Detroit, working with the city of Detroit itself and with private and public entities. Some notable clients include Wayne County — we provided CCTV security and voice data system integration. We’ve also done work at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

What is ISG Global’s culture?

The ISG Global culture is deeply rooted in providing excellent service. Our commitment of providing quality has lead to many longstanding clients. We’re very committed to the city, including   mentoring students from Detroit Public Schools as they enter the IT field. Additionally, many of our staff are Detroiters. We love showing pride for our city.

Why did ISG select Detroit as its headquarters?

I was born and raised here in Detroit. I’m a graduate of Northwestern High School (the best school in the city) as well as the University of Detroit. There is no other place I’d like to have a business — it’s extremely important to me to live and work here. We do our best to hire Detroiters and work with as many Detroiters as possible.

What companies have you collaborated with in Detroit?

President and CEO Tarrolyn Buckles of Onyx Enterprise, Inc., has been an incredible mentor to me and ISG Global.

What are the benefits of connecting with other Detroit businesses?

I think that Detroit businesses coming together and collaborating is extremely beneficial because it creates longstanding relationships, and these relationships provide opportunities to work and partner together. You see larger businesses create joint ventures all the time. Smaller businesses here in our great city can do the same and be effective. D2D has been particularly beneficial to ISG Global in securing a variety of opportunities here in the city.

Michael Forsyth

Director of Small Business Services


The Vibe in Paradise Valley: La Casa Cigar

Ismail Houmani

Five developers with strong Detroit roots recently received approval from the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Detroit to redevelop nine properties in the Paradise Valley Cultural & Entertainment District. The project will feature commercial and retail space, residential units, restaurants, entertainment venues and a boutique hotel, all scheduled to be built in the next three years.

Each developer has a great story to tell, and this is the third in a series that will run in this newsletter. La Casa Properties, LLC, led by Ismail Houmani, principal, will make improvements to 1402 Randolph as a cigar lounge, store and apartments.

“While exciting news of the ​Paradise Valley redevelopment came down the news wire, La Casa Cigar Inspired Music Lounge ​had​ been kindly often​ referred to as an ‘old-timer on the block.’ It all started in 2009, when led by my love for a city, I followed my dream to create a luxury cigar brand, lounge, and live music destination in Detroit. At the time, few individuals were looking to develop retail and/or entertainment attractions in the city, ​and especially within Paradise Valley.

“In spite of that, I felt a ​deep connection with the history of that area and knew that Paradise Valley was exactly the right place for my dream to become a reality. During renovation, it was of the utmost importance for me to preserve as much of the architectural details of the building as possible. In creating La Casa, I was guided by the belief that it was my duty to continue to restore and revive the area by offering rich cultural and entertainment options in a luxury setting.

“Today, ​as one of Detroit’s favorite destinations on most city tours, La Casa continues to support and bring in Detroit-based talent for its live music entertainment a minimum of four nights each week. Showcasing local talent is a differentiator for our establishment: from soul to jazz to R&B, La Casa offers free-of-charge entertainment.

“For many decades, Detroit was one of the centers of tobacco manufacturing in America and tobacco was Detroit’s leading industry, ranking first among all businesses in the number of factories and the number of employees. Understanding this history, I also hoped to make Detroit prominent once again in the cigar sector. In 2011, La Casa launched a Detroit-themed cigar line called “20 Minutes in Detroit.” To promote the city, the various sizes of the cigars were named after prominent city streets: Woodward, Randolph, Madison, Congress, Fisher, Mack, Harmonie Park, Grand River, Jefferson, Grand Circus Park, Campus Martius, and 8 Mile. This line quickly became a favorite of Detroiters ​and visitors alike.

“With the acquisition of the 1502 Randolph property and announcement of 2016 Paradise Valley’s redevelopment, I would like to extend my warm welcome to all the newcomers. My staff and I are looking forward to being a part of building a strong business community along with new passionate neighbors and continuing to preserve ​Paradise Valley’s vast cultural heritage.”