NEIdeas Announces 2016 Finalists

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A total of 134 businesses have been selected as finalists for this year’s NEIdeas challenge, a program rewarding existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park with cash for their ideas for growth. This fall, 30 of the finalists will be selected to win $10,000 each for their ideas to grow, and two others will be selected to win $100,000 each for their ideas to “grow big.”

More than 600 businesses submitted ideas by the June 1 application deadline.

“We are thrilled at both the number and quality of applications we received for this year’s NEIdeas challenge,” said Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative. “The strength of these applications is a testament to the strength and resilience of small business owners throughout the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.”

This year’s finalists include a wide variety of businesses spanning many sectors, from chocolatiers to car washes, restaurants to construction companies, marketing firms to manufacturers, boutiques to barber colleges. The ages of the finalist businesses range from three years to 107 years old.

Applicants’ ideas for growth include purchasing software to promote their products and services, adding production equipment, building out new facilities, acquiring work vehicles, improving facades, and much more.

For a complete list of 2016 finalists, visit Neweconomyinitiative.org.

New Economy Initiative

New Economy Initiative Launches Third and Final Year of NEIdeas Small Business Challenge

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New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), kicked off the third and final year of NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth, on April 20. The two-tiered challenge awards $500,000 to existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park to grow their businesses.

Over the last two years, NEIdeas has granted more than $1 million in cash awards to more than 60 existing businesses, as well as provided access to business support for all applicants. Nearly 1,200 small businesses from every corner of the three cities applied to the NEIdeas challenge in 2014 and 2015. Business industries have spanned more than 16 sectors, ranging from barbers to manufacturers, mechanics to bakers, and more. Seventy percent of NEIdeas winners were minority-owned businesses, 64 percent were women-owned businesses, and 53 percent were both woman- and minority-owned businesses. The businesses range in age from three to 93 years old.

“Over the last two years, we’ve seen the ripple effect that this challenge has had on so many small businesses in the city,” said Pam Lewis, NEI director. “It’s been incredible to not only watch the winning businesses grow, but to see the impact of the applicants who are now a part of the small business ecosystem and have access to community resources funded by NEI. This challenge is rewarding those whose spirit and determination over the years has kept the city afloat and are crucial to the future success of Detroit.”

NEIdeas features two types of awards:

  • $10,000 for existing businesses that gross under $750,000 annually with ideas to grow
  • $100,000 for existing businesses that gross more than $750,000 and less than $5 million annually with ideas to grow “big”

Thirty applicants will be awarded $10,000 each, and two businesses will be awarded $100,000 each. Businesses must be three years of age or older by the application deadline of June 1, 2016, to be eligible for an NEIdeas award. All applicants who apply to the challenge will gain connections to other small businesses and entrepreneurs, access to resources, and exposure through NEIdeas’ All-Applicant Assistance.

NEIdeas is operated in partnership with DEGC. DEGC coordinates an outreach program that features nearly 30 “ambassador” locations including community organizations, associations and faith-based institutions across Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. The ambassadors provide small businesses with information and guidance throughout the application process.

“The application process is quick and easy,” said Rodrick Miller, president and CEO, DEGC. “Nearly 1,200 small businesses have applied over the past two years, and they all have become part of a network that will help their companies flourish. The time is now to take advantage of this opportunity, so I strongly encourage business owners in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park to apply.”

The application for the 2016 NEIdeas challenge is available online at NEIdeasDetroit.org. Printed applications are also available at nearly every ambassador location. For-profit small businesses of any industry are invited to apply by submitting applications online or via U.S. mail.

Application deadlines for the $10k and $100k challenges are Wednesday, June 1. Interested small businesses can learn more about NEIdeas through the five NEIdeas Info Sessions & Workshops. A full calendar of events is listed on NEIdeasDetroit.org.

After the application period closes, NEIdeas will narrow the pool of applicants and forward the semi-finalists to a jury comprised of empathetic entrepreneurs (including past NEIdeas winners) and nonprofit, corporate, and neighborhood partners. The jury will recommend finalists and, ultimately, winners. If selected as a finalist, applicants will be asked to submit additional information about their business. Winners will be notified by CFSEM in the fall.

Michael Forsyth

Director of Small Business Programs

NEI Awards $300,000 in Grants to 30 Small Businesses

 

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Thirty small businesses from across Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park each received $10,000 awards on November 2 from the second annual “NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth” challenge.

New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), launched NEIdeas in May 2014 to celebrate existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park and reward those with the best ideas for business growth.

This was the second year of the two-tiered challenge which has given over $1 million in cash rewards and was open to small businesses at least three years or older. The two types of awards included: $10,000 for 30 businesses grossing under $750,000 annually and $100,000 for two businesses that gross between $750,000 and $5 million annually. The $100k challenge winners will be announced in December.

NEIdeas was operated in partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC). DEGC participated in the jury process and lead an outreach program that featured more than two dozen “Ambassador” organizations and institutions throughout all three cities, providing small businesses with information and guidance throughout the application process.

“Over the past two years, NEIdeas has given us the opportunity to connect with more than 1,100 small businesses in the city,” said Rodrick T. Miller, president & CEO, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “NEIdeas, with its focus on existing businesses is a critical piece of Detroit’s small business support system. This system is essential in helping every Detroiter participate in our economic expansion.”

Spencer Olinek
Strategic Partnerships Manager

J & G Pallets and Trucking, Sherwood Prototype Selected as Recipients of $100,000 NEIdeas Grants

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New Economy Initiative (NEI) has named J & G Pallets and Trucking in Detroit and Sherwood Prototype in Highland Park as $100,000 winners of the inaugural NEIdeas competition. NEIdeas is a program designed to celebrate existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park and reward those with the best ideas for growth. In total, NEI awarded more than $500,000 to 36 small businesses through NEIdeas.

Of the nearly 600 NEIdeas applicants, the two $100,000 winners were selected based upon growth opportunity, business history and mission, neighborhood impact and good financial standing.

Family-owned and founded in 1994, J & G is now one of the largest pallet manufacturers in the region, producing hundreds of thousands of units annually. The company, headquartered on the eastside and owned by Geraldine Wooten, offers to build customized pallets that meet specific customer size, handling and storage requirements. With a growing customer base throughout the Midwest, J & G will use its NEIdeas grant to further accelerate the renovation of a newly purchased location, hire eight local employees and buy a new automated wood pallet maker to increase manufacturing capacity.

Founded in 1991 by Peter Paxton, Sherwood Prototype is now owned and operated by five siblings of the Paxton Family. The company specializes in sheet metal parts, stampings and assemblies for a variety of industries, but manufacturing limitations have prevented them from accommodating full-scale production. Sherwood has worked diligently to expand throughout the last year, and plans to use the NEIdeas grant to continue its growth. The funds will go towards welding equipment, professional certifications, marketing and renovations to its expanded facility.

Since 2009, NEI has awarded $85.3 million in grants, which has helped create more than 1,200 new companies and 10,300 new jobs in the Southeastern Michigan.

Tiffini Smith

Director of Communications

NEIdeas rewards 30 “been-up” businesses with $10,000 grants

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A clothing design studio will buy an industrial sewing machine, an urban farm will buy land for Detroit’s first vineyard, a barber shop will buy equipment to start sharpening and repairing hair clippers, and so it goes for 27 other small Detroit businesses whose business plans earned them $10,000 grants from the New Economy Initiative.

A total of 600 Detroit companies based in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, all in business for at least three years, applied for the first NEIdeas grants. The two-tiered challenge offered a total of $500,000 in cash rewards: $10,000 for 30 businesses grossing under $1 million annually and $100,000 for two businesses that gross between $1 and $5 million annually. The $100k challenge winners will be announced later this month.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs have been crucial to our city for many decades – from paying taxes, to hiring local employees and being anchors for their neighborhoods,” said David O. Egner, NEI Executive Director.

“Growing small businesses in Detroit is central to our administration’s strategy for building our economic base and creating employment opportunities for Detroiters,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “We appreciate the New Economy Initiative for being such a great partner in Detroit’s revitalization.”

NEIdeas was operated in partnership with DEGC. We conducted an outreach program that featured more than two dozen “Ambassador” organizations and institutions throughout all three cities that provided small businesses with information and guidance throughout the application process. We also managed the juried selection process.

“This landmark challenge provided a nice boost to our work with small businesses throughout the city,” added Rodrick T. Miller, president and CEO, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “NEIdeas gave us the opportunity to connect more companies to all the forms of assistance we can provide, and in that respect it made every applicant a winner.

A full listing of the winners can be found online at: http://neideasdetroit.org/10k-winners/

Spencer Olinek
Business Development Manager