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Mayor Duggan, Detroit Means Business announce $3.4 million grant to establish 25 Small Business Support Hubs

Mar 4, 2024

  • Collaborative effort by Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, DEGC-affiliate Detroit Means Business and local organizations to foster inclusive economic growth
  • Small Business Support Hubs will provide coaching, training, networking and other resources to help entrepreneurs start and grow companies
  • Backed by $3.4 million state grant, the hubs will deliver tailored support based on needs of each community
  • Hub features include an AI-powered platform with customized business profiles and recommendations

DETROIT (March 4, 2024) – Mayor Mike Duggan joined Detroit Means Business (DMB), a coalition fostering small business growth in Detroit, to announce a $3.4 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The funds will create 25 Small Business Support Hubs assisting Detroit entrepreneurs across the city. The announcement took place at an event held at the BUILD Institute, one of the locations that will house a future support hub.

The hubs, created in partnership with six local community organizations, will provide coaching, training, networking opportunities and other resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow successful companies.

“These hubs will equip residents to turn their dreams into reality by giving them the tailored coaching, training, networking and support they need right in their communities,” said DMB President Dr. Marlo Rencher, adding that the hubs will deliver targeted support based on the needs of each neighborhood. “As we continue working to ensure shared economic prosperity across Detroit, these hubs represent an important step in strengthening neighborhoods by helping small businesses plant roots and grow.”

There will be at least one hub in every Detroit City Council district. The first hub is slated to open in May and will be in the Northwest Activity Center on the city’s west side.

At the hubs, business owners can access the DMB Business Experience Center – an inbound and outbound call center to assist with troubleshooting common inquiries, navigating business programs and recommending Detroit-based business development opportunities. Customer service representatives will utilize new technology tools like a text-based artificial intelligence platform customized to assist Detroit entrepreneurs with solutions that are specific to running a business in Detroit.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They employ local residents and bring investment into our communities,” said Gabriela Santiago-Romero, Councilmember for Detroit’s District 6. “The launch of this new collaborative initiative is exciting because it aims to meet entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners where they are, in their community, thereby removing barriers to access and opportunity.”

Entrepreneurs can also access a business resource navigator developed by the New Economy Initiative, a local nonprofit. The platform enables users to create customized business profiles that track engagement and recommend resources from Detroit’s business-serving organizations. Attendees were able to preview the technology at today’s press conference.

Resources such as business coaching, access to capital, mentorship, networking and collaboration opportunities will also be available to help entrepreneurs succeed. Further hub features will be announced later this year.

“Having brick-and-mortar locations for aspiring entrepreneurs to turn for guidance and direction is going to be a game-changer,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “We are thankful to the MEDC for the funding needed to bring this level of support right into our neighborhoods, and to our community partners for their willingness to do this important work.”

The hubs are made possible by a $3.4 million Small Business Support Hubs grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) awarded to the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and its partners, including DMB, an affiliate of the DEGC. The grant will allow Detroit to significantly expand support services offered to entrepreneurs throughout the city, especially people of color. Currently, less than 10% of Detroit residents are aware of the full breadth of small business resources available in the city, according to DMB.

“Michigan is committed to bolstering our entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting the small businesses that drive our economy, as well as trusted partners like Detroit Means Business and their neighborhood coalition partners,” said Amy Rencher, MEDC Senior Vice President of Small Business Services. “By leveraging federal dollars, the Detroit Means Business Small Business Support Hub will help us expand and improve resources across the region while raising the national profile of the strength of our entrepreneurial community, ensuring small businesses have a path to Make it in Michigan.”

The 25 hubs will be in organizations deeply embedded in Detroit-serving organizations, such as BUILD Institute, ProsperUs, Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, Highland Park Community Kitchen, Milestone Growth Capital and Black Leaders Detroit. Their neighborhood ties and focus on empowering people of color will help the hubs effectively serve Detroit’s diverse small business community. Following the press conference, the organizations held a signing ceremony formalizing their partnership to establish the small business hubs.

“We are excited to partner with Detroit Means Business and the other trusted connectors,” said BUILD Institute President and CEO Regina Ann Campbell. “This collaboration will allow us to expand our collective footprint to have greater economic impact, and heighten our social investment as we coach and support entrepreneurs as they learn, launch and grow their
businesses.”

“ProsperUs is extremely excited to work with this curated group of Black-led business support organizations. We recognize the significant role each organization play in our local ecosystem,” said ProsperUs CEO Paul Jones. “With the support of MEDC and under the guidance of Detroit Means Business, we are confident that we will achieve radical impact and tangible returns for businesses in Detroit.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate with organizations equally committed to delivering resources to the highly deserving small business owners within our community,” said Dwan Dandridge, founder and CEO of Black Leaders Detroit. “Our objective is to make sure that Black business owners don’t get left out.”

“Milestone Growth Capital Institute was built on the foundation of nearly three decades of investing, programmatic, mentoring and academic experience. We believe that in order to create an early-stage ecosystem that is diverse and inclusive, emerging entrepreneurs and angel investors will both need support to thrive,” said Dr. Dawn Batts, CEO of Milestone Growth Capital Institute. “Our partnership through the Small Business Support Hubs Program will allow us to make significant strides in education and resource accessibility for entrepreneurs. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Detroit Means Business for their strategic vision, and to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for their unwavering commitment to expanding opportunities and pathways for Michigan founders.”

“Highland Park Community Kitchen is excited to partner with this exceptional group of eco-system partners with the support of the MEDC to further support entrepreneurs in Highland Park and the surrounding community,” said Highland Park Community Kitchen Founder Marlin Williams. “We look forward to opening this much needed space to empower food entrepreneurs to explore, grow, and scale their businesses and connecting technology and mobility solutions to positively impact the community and beyond.”

This collaborative small business support effort is part of a statewide initiative by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to foster inclusive economic growth. Detroit is home to two of 27 entrepreneurial hub projects receiving state grants.

More information on the support hubs will be made available at www.DetroitMeansBusiness.org.

About Detroit Means Business (DMB):
Detroit Means Business is a coalition of business support organizations and government agencies that was established to help small businesses in Detroit, Michigan. The coalition’s primary objective is to provide small business owners with the resources and support they need to survive and thrive in Detroit’s economy. This includes access to financing, training, technical assistance and other resources.

About Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC):
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is a non-profit organization that serves as Detroit’s lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction and economic development. DEGC is led by a board comprised of business, civic and community leaders. Its staff provides services for key public authorities that facilitate incentives and other forms of financing for projects that bring new jobs and investment to the City. DEGC also manages important initiatives to support small businesses and grow neighborhood commercial corridors. DEGC is dedicated to inclusive development and access to economic opportunity.

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