Narrow Way Cafe & Shop Opens on Avenue of Fashion

FROM: Michael Rafferty, Vice President, Small Business Services

The Avenue of Fashion welcomed its newest business last week when Narrow Way Café & Shop, recipient of a Motor City Match grant, celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Mike Duggan and specials throughout the day for customers.

The new café is located at 19331 Livernois Avenue next to Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles. It is owned by brothers David and Jonathon Merritt, their father Bishop Andrew Merritt and Sabrina Swain, who also is the general manager. The Merritt’s first tested their model and gained experience by operating a pop-up in Straight Gate International Church, where they serve as clergy.

Narrow Way serves Zingerman’s coffee and pastries, baked goods from Avalon International Breads, and smoothies. It also features free WIFI and printing capabilities. Its business hours are 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Motor City Match is celebrating its second full year of success, having awarded nearly $4 million to more than 750 businesses around Detroit. It awards $500,000 every quarter to startups and businesses expanding to new locations, and its eighth round of awards will be announced next week.

Business Development Hosts Site Selectors Forum

FROM: Peter Chapman, Executive Vice President, Business Development

One of the strategies we use to help achieve our goal of attracting jobs and capital investment to Detroit is to engage with site selectors, the consultants who advise corporations where to locate or expand their operations. Recently DEGC Business Development hosted its inaugural “Detroit Immersion: A Site Selector Forum” for site selectors from cities around the country, including Dallas, New York, San Antonio, Omaha, Atlanta, and Tampa.

We wanted to start to change their perceptions about Detroit, and give them encouragement and comfort in referring their clients to us, so we decided to invite them to our city to hear from businesses that have made an investment here, like Shinola Detroit, Sakthi Automotive Group, Ilitch Holdings, Adient, and Quicken Loans. We also provided them with critical data about Detroit in this piece, “Detroit is on the Rise.”

Site selectors represent both domestic and international companies and can have critical influence in the world of corporate relocation. We plan to hold our next Detroit Immersion in the fall for a different group of site selectors.

Another strategy we’re implementing to help expand the local job base is helping local companies export goods and services more aggressively and strategically overseas. The recent Alibaba Gateway ’17 event at Cobo Center was designed to increase local awareness of the trade opportunities in China for small and medium-sized Detroit businesses. We were successful in encouraging local companies to participate in that forum, and we’ll continue to engage in conversations with Alibaba as we seek to build a strong export program for Detroiters.

New Motor City Re-Store to Boost Established Businesses

FROM: Glen W. Long, Jr., Chief Financial Officer, Interim President & CEO

I was so excited last week to see the Motor City Re-Store program announced in the neighborhood I grew up in, Old Redford. Re-Store is the newest element in the strong network of support that DEGC, along with Mayor Duggan’s office and other private, philanthropic, and non-profit organizations, is building for every kind of small business in every phase of growth. The aim of Motor City Re-Store is to strengthen Detroit’s neighborhood commercial corridors and the existing businesses that have helped define them.

We recognize successful small businesses are significant job creators and strong contributors to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. In Old Redford, we’re lucky to have long-time businesses such as Paul the Barber and the Old Redford Theatre joined by newer stores like Sweet Potato Sensations, Motor City Java, and Tea House.

Motor City Re-Store will give existing business owners like these and their landlords a chance to improve the appearance of their building and make the business more attractive to new customers. Re-Store will award up to $50,000 every three months in matching grants for exterior improvements such as facade work, landscaping, and parking lot upgrades, as well as technical assistance to support improvements such as architecture and design.

It’s a companion program to Motor City Match, which awards $500,000 every quarter to startups and businesses expanding to new locations. I’m pleased to tell you Motor City Match will celebrate two years of success next month, having supported more than 750 businesses around Detroit.

The small business team at the DEGC will manage Motor City Re-Store. I can’t thank them enough for their time, talent, and dedication. The feedback we’ve received from small business owners about this team over the last couple of years has been phenomenal. Led by Mike Rafferty, they’ve worked with well over a thousand small businesses through a variety of programs, and they’re proud to make this brand-new program available to existing businesses.

Motor City Re-Store will be taking applications for Round 1 from June 15 through August 1, and the first awards will be announced in the fall. Re-Store will host two Info Sessions for all business owners interested in applying for grants on June 22 and June 29. More information is available at MotorCityRe-store.com.

Process To Facilitate Pistons’ Move To Detroit Hits Milestones

As you know, representatives of the DDA and DEGC have been integrally involved in facilitating the Detroit Pistons’ relocation to Detroit. Recently we reached two important milestones in the process of gaining bond issuance approvals supporting enhancements to Little Caesars Arena for the team’s move.

The City of Detroit City Planning Commission has recommended the 2017 Proposed Plan Amendments to the DDA’s Restated Tax Increment Financing Plan and Development Plan for Development Area No. 1, which includes the Catalyst Development Project (i.e., the Little Caesars Arena and surrounding private development). Furthermore, the Michigan Strategic Fund — the entity which was responsible for issuing the 2014 bonds for the construction of the arena — approved the changes to the Catalyst Development Project set forth in the 2017 Proposed Plan Amendments.

There are more steps in this ongoing process, including opportunities for public comment. Detroit City Council has hosted public hearings to listen to comments, concerns and recommendations regarding the community impact of the Detroit Pistons’ home venue relocation to the Little Caesars Arena, and headquarters and practice facility relocation to New Center.

DEGC continues to deliver. We will keep you informed of future developments.

Flex-N-Gate investment attests to strong manufacturing in Detroit

From the desk of: Glen W. Long, Jr., Chief Financial Officer, Interim President & CEO

We celebrated a very important investment in the City of Detroit this week when top automotive supplier Flex-N-Gate hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at 7000 Georgia Street in the I-94 Industrial Center, future site of its new $95-million manufacturing facility. It will be the largest investment by an auto supplier in the City of Detroit in more than 20 years.

This is a huge win for two reasons: it proves the manufacturing industry is strong in Detroit, and it will create 400 to up to 700 new jobs in an area where new jobs are sorely needed. Flex-N-Gate has committed to hiring Detroiters and Detroit-based contractors, as well as developing a comprehensive hiring plan in conjunction with the City of Detroit Human Rights Department and Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. to help ensure permanent jobs for Detroiters. Its new facility is expected to open next year.

A key reason Flex-N-Gate was able to locate in Detroit was the tax incentives administered by DEGC through the Detroit Next Michigan Development Corporation, one of the public authorities DEGC manages.

The 189-acre I-94 Industrial Park has been under control of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) since 2000, with EDC overseeing property acquisition, clean up and development of the land. LINC Logistics was the Park’s first major new tenant when it opened a new $30-million, 500,000 sq. ft. facility last year, immediately adjacent to the Flex-N-Gate site.

This latest investment in the I-94 Industrial Park is the culmination of a collaborative effort among the City of Detroit, DEGC and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which administers incentives and programs on behalf of the Michigan Strategic Fund.