Michigan Corps Looking for Entrepreneurs Who Solve Social Challenges

REVOLVE - Retail Evolution logo
Do you have an idea or an existing venture that could solve a critical social challenge in one of these areas: chronic unemployment, health and nutrition, the environment, urban revitalization or education? Michigan Corps and its partners have launched the 2014 Social Entrepreneur Challenge to find and support entrepreneurs solving such challenges across Michigan.

Individuals and teams are invited to register by April 30 and complete their submission by May 30. Applicants will be eligible to attend online classes, neighborhood tours, networking events and access a WIKI with FAQs to support the development of their submission before the May 30 deadline.

The 2014 challenge also features special opportunities for the winners to locate their social enterprise in Detroit and Flint. Through neighborhood meet and greet events, applicants will have the opportunity to tour neighborhoods and learn about available real estate and support services for their business or organization.

There are 10 Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Prize Tracks consisting of:

  • Cash prizes ranging from $1,000 – $5,000
  • Admission to Michigan Corps’ Social Impact Investment Fellowship, which includes an investor assessment valued at $2,500; two months’ investment readiness consultation services valued at $12,500; and an invitation to a live impact investor pitch, which is invaluable.
  • Entrepreneur support services including legal services, work space, training and consultation services.

The challenge kicked off last year as the nation’s first state-wide competition in social enterprise.  Read about the 2013 fellows on the Michigan Corps website and learn how their entrepreneurial models are making a positive social impact in Michigan and around the world.  For more information, visit http://www.michigancorps.org/

Michael Forsyth
REVOLVE Detroit Program Manager

Contractor Spotlight: Thomas Maliszewski – WCI Contractors, Inc.

Dequindre Cut Trail Entrance Plaza
WCI Contractors, Inc. is a construction company that works on a variety of projects such as streetscapes, parks, playgrounds and buildings in Detroit and the metro area. President and CEO Thomas Maliszewski founded WCI in 1991.

What are some of your notable projects?

A recent notable project was the Dequindre Cut trail entrance plaza. It recently won an award with the Construction Association of Michigan (CAM).  Additional projects we took great pride in were Mt. Elliott Park, Chene Park, Cadillac Square Park and Eastern Market Shed 2 renovations.

Tell me about some of  the current projects you’re working on.

We are currently working on a variety of projects. One that I’m particularly fond of is the construction we’re doing on Shed 5 at Eastern Market. As an aside, my grandfather came to Detroit in the early 1900s and he ran a grocery store on Chene Street. He and my father would go to Eastern Market to buy the vegetables. My family’s history in the city makes working on projects here even more enjoyable.

We’re also working with the Detroit Parks and Recreation department to renovate two parks right now: Patton Park and Balduck Park. That project started last fall and are set to complete this spring. In fact, we’ll be doing a lot around the city once spring is upon us. A new bus transit center is also in progress at Northland Center with the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT).

Why did you select Detroit as your headquarters?

Detroit is central in the type of work WCI wanted to do. It’s great to be in the city and stay in tune with what is going on. Now is a particularly exciting and busy time for WCI in Detroit. There is a lot of potential in the city. In fact, I have friends in other states and countries that ask about what’s happening in Detroit all the time. I always respond, “This city is as much of an opportunity as someone wants it to be – it’s not all true what you see on TV – it’s great place to live.”

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

It’s really exciting to work with nearly every department in Detroit. For example, we worked with Detroit public schools, constructing three complete athletic complexes. It’s wonderful when our projects are completed and we are able to see residents enjoy them. WCI is committed to addressing the city’s needs and creating a positive energy around town.

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

WCI wants to continue to build quality projects for residents. We’re also passionate about encouraging maintenance for our projects and around the city – to keep Detroit clean and all construction up-to-date.

What is your company culture?

No two projects are the same, we work on so many different types of construction and each project is unique in its customization. Longevity is another main component to WCI’s culture, we commit to doing projects right the first time for a quality end result.   

Tiffini D. Smith
Communications Director

A New Vision for the Old Tiger Stadium Site

Tiger Stadium Site Plan
Like a lot of Detroiters, I spent a lot of time watching great baseball games at Tiger Stadium, and although the structure itself was not really suited for an adaptive reuse, I’ve always liked the idea of redeveloping the site in a way that would honor the history it represents. The site is also an important one to the Corktown neighborhood, so we have to take advantage of it to continue the revitalization of that important part of Detroit.

I’m very pleased that we have reached a point where both of those priorities can be met — and we can also create a place that promotes youth sports. The Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) has issued a request for proposals to redevelop the site with room for a new headquarters for Detroit PAL and a youth baseball field in the same area as many legendary baseball stars played. The RFP also envisions three zones for development that would enhance the surrounding Corktown neighborhood.

This vision for the site represents the best combination of input from all the significant stakeholders — the City of Detroit, the Corktown community, and all those who have fond memories of the old ball park. Every time a youngster runs a base on the youth field it will honor the legacy of the field itself, while every dollar invested in the surrounding development will enhance the viability of Corktown’s future.

The site itself is about 9.5 acres in size and the plan included in the RFP shows a proposed new headquarters for Detroit PAL along Cochrane St., while the youth field would cover much of the same footprint as Tiger Field. The RFP calls for development in two areas of the site: one along Michigan Ave. and the other along Trumbull St. A third development zone along Kaline Drive is not being offered at this time. The RFP states that the EDC will favor proposals that relate well to the surrounding communities, achieve urban development objectives such as high density and street-front massing, and evoke or commemorate the history of the site.

The RFP may be downloaded from DEGC’s website, www.degc.org. Proposals are due in late May, with a decision by the EDC possible by the end of August. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but we have a lot of support for the concept and plenty of interest from qualified developers. It’s taken quite a few at-bats to get here, but we are swinging for the fence on this pitch.

By: George W. Jackson, Jr.

Detroit Construction Firms Learn to Grow Business

Supplier Capacity Building Seminar
Representatives from more than 10 Detroit-based construction firms participated in the two-day, interactive “Supplier Capacity Building Series” hosted by D2D in March.

“I was glad to be there,” said Tony Sabo, senior vice president and partner, Grunwell Cashero Co.  “It was well run and the speakers gave good information. It was great to be around so many good contractors.”

Presentation topics included financial analysis and ratios for contractors, construction accounting, contracting with the GSA, and increasing bonding for 2nd tier businesses.

“I want to thank the DEGC and D2D program for helping level the playing field for Detroit-based small businesses. At the end of the day, it boils down to access, and this program seeks to provide just that,” said Derek Gideons, founder, TEG Environmental Services, Inc.

Brian Watkins
Business Development Manager 

CEO Spotlight: George Karmo – Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc.


Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc. (TYJT) is a consulting engineering business with a staff of about 60 people who provide comprehensive environmental and civil engineering services in four practice areas: water, wastewater, infrastructure and environmental compliance. TYJT was founded in Detroit in 1984 and is headquartered in the Ford Building downtown, with additional offices in Baltimore and Cleveland. George Y. Karmo, P.E., has been with TYJT for 20 years and has served as its president for 10 years.

Tell me about your work in the city of Detroit

I think we’ve worked with just about every department in the city of Detroit. We’ve handled civil and electrical engineering work on the RiverWalk, and streetscapes in Greektown and along Woodward. We’ve also done engineering design for water main replacements, water leak detection and audits, and water and wastewater treatment plant design for the Detroit Water Department. And we’ve done ADA ramp design and traffic signal control work.

Describe your most recent projects

Over the last couple of years, we’ve had the opportunity to partner with Kimely-Horn, a national aviation firm, on runway construction at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. We’ve done a lot of utilities work at the airport, but we didn’t have experience in runway construction. It was an opportunity for us to be mentored and trained by Kimley-Horn to perform design work and get experience in runway construction.

Recently, we’ve met with members of DEGC and MEDC on a storm water management project. We’re working to find solutions to reduce the discharge of storm water from areas where businesses operate, thus saving them money and in the process reducing the burden on the Detroit sewer system.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit?

We want to come up with solutions for businesses that will enable them to stay and grow in the city of Detroit, just as we’ve been able to grow here.