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Detroit businesses in Gratiot/7 Mile Strategic Neighborhood Fund area get financial boost for facade improvements, grants still available

Dec 13, 2023

  • 14 small businesses within Gratiot/7 Mile microdistricts awarded up to $35,000 for facade improvement grants, applications open for remaining grants until December 31st
  • Grants made possible by the City of Detroit, Invest Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Fifth Third Bank through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund initiative
  • The program is also seeking licensed contractors to facilitate transformations of small businesses

DETROIT (December 13, 2023)

The City of Detroit has awarded 14 grants for businesses located within the Gratiot/7 Mile Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF) area to improve their storefronts, and there is still time for businesses to apply for this key funding. The G7 Facade Improvement Program, made possible by public and private partners, offers $35,000 apiece for businesses in designated areas to upgrade their exteriors.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our city, and revitalizing our commercial corridors has long been a priority for Mayor Duggan’s administration,” said Amanda Elias, Deputy Group Executive, Neighborhood Economic Development Team. “This grant will help more than a dozen small businesses along the Gratiot Corridor refresh their storefronts and support Detroit’s great entrepreneurs.”

The program, launched in April 2023, offers grants to eligible businesses in three Detroit microdistricts – Gratiot/Liberal, Gratiot/McNichols, and Houston-Whittier/Kelly. The program funds upgrades like architectural feature replacement, new signage, exterior lighting, window repair and more. The grants are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so the City urges interested businesses to complete applications soon.

Applicants must operate an active, non-chain, commercial business within the three designated microdistricts. The Gratiot/7 Mile neighborhoods are in City Council Districts 3 and 4. So far, 14 diverse businesses including mechanic shops, carryout restaurants and childcare centers have been awarded grants through the program.

“Our commercial corridors often serve as the economic drivers of our neighborhoods, especially as we traverse outside of downtown,” said City of Detroit Planning and Development Director Antoine Bryant. “The Planning and Development Department is excited to partner with our residents in helping to catalyze efforts among our small businesses, and are focused on the continued collaborative advancement of their physical locations.”

Support from key partners

The grants are part of a series of improvements taking place in the Gratiot/7 Mile SNF planning area. They are made possible by the City of Detroit, Invest Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and Fifth Third Bank through the SNF initiative. The purpose is to help make G7 microdistricts more inviting, vibrant and walkable by improving business storefronts along designated corridors. The program also connects business owners with licensed contractors to collaborate on customized upgrades, with construction expected to begin in spring 2024.

“Community partnerships are critical to the success of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF). It’s why we’re so excited to be working with the DEGC, City of Detroit, and Fifth Third Bank on the G7 Façade Program,” said Jermaine Ruffin, Senior Vice President of Neighborhoods for Invest Detroit. “Their work on this effort has already led to 14 façade awards and is part of SNF’s commitment to supporting projects and programs identified by the community to achieve our mission of more resilient neighborhoods across Detroit.”

The public-private investment plan for the Gratiot/7 Mile area envisions a vibrant, inclusive Detroit neighborhood focusing on green space, new housing and retail, better commercial areas and neighborhood stabilization. The plan builds on existing community strengths while aligning major resources, including $5 million courtesy of Fifth Third Bank, to holistically revive the area. Improvements will roll out over a five-year implementation window.

“The G7 Façade Improvement program is an excellent example of how collaboration and a shared vision can uplift and revitalize a neighborhood,” said Fifth Third Bank Vice President and Community Impact Manager Tawnya Rose. “We are fully committed to being part of this community development process and eagerly anticipate the vibrancy this comprehensive effort will spark.”

With deep expertise running facade improvement initiatives, the DEGC is the lead facilitator of the G7 Facade Program. DEGC has effectively overseen the similar Motor City Match Restore track, providing local business grants specifically for storefront upgrades. That experience positions the organization perfectly to spearhead efforts to enrich building exteriors in high-visibility areas.

“We have seen the incredible transformations businesses can make when given the opportunity and resources for facade improvements,” said Sean Gray, DEGC Vice President of Small Business Services. “The Motor City Match Restore track paved the way for success, and we aim to replicate that on an even larger scale, revitalizing entire microdistricts to showcase Detroit at its best.”

Community partners, including Detroit Community Solutions, Osborn Neighborhood Association and Redeem Detroit, have held informational sessions for interested applicants, offering further guidance on the program details and application process.

The deadline to apply is December 31st. Business owners looking to understand what upgrades qualify or how to apply can visit: https://tinyurl.com/G7Facade. Contractors interested in providing services for business owners can apply at: https://forms.gle/kdLGw1WcBfETGSwy7.

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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