Mayor Mike Duggan’s Motor City Match program
Detroit is Back Baby!
Detroit’s hopes of nurturing a small-business entrepreneurial ecosystem took a big step forward Tuesday with the first cash awards in Mayor Mike Duggan’s Motor City Match program.
The 10 winning businesses will receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to expand their businesses. Winners included a variety of firms including a graphic design and printing firm called Hi Def Graphfxs to Mama Rita Foods, a restaurant and wholesale distributor of Mexican foods.
One of the cash winners, J&G Pallets, received a $100,000 grant to help the firm expand to a third location at 6500 Mack Avenue. The firm manufactures and refurbishes wood pallets used in shipping and warehousing.
“We were going to do this project with this or without this, but this makes it a lot easier,” said Geraldine Wooten, the firm’s president. “We’re very excited. We’ve been in the city all our lives, through all the ups and downs, and we’re not going no place. This is our home.”
Another winner, Jeff Adams of Artesian Farms, an indoor agriculture operation in northwest Detroit that uses vertical racks to grow vegetables in hydroponic trays, will used his $55,000 cash grant to greatly expand his operation.
“It’s got a lot of potential for the city because this is a movement that’s is not going to stop, vertical hydroponic growing in urban areas,” he said. “We can scale this up throughout the city and then we can start to get all of our food locally as opposed to bringing in it in from California, Arizona.”
Under the Motor City Match program, the city plays go-between to pair up entrepreneurs and small businesses that need space with property owners who have buildings that need new tenants. The program focuses on the city’s traditional neighborhood retail corridors. Besides the 10 firms winning cash awards, the city also announced several dozen more firms that will receive technical assistance from help writing business plans to help reapplying for cash in the next round of awards.
“These are companies that will be renovating neighborhood buildings for their businesses, creating jobs and serving the community,” Duggan said at the announcement ceremony in the city’s Old Redford district on the northwest side.
The Motor City Match program joins a growing list of entrepreneurial support here as Detroit attempts to grow its small business community through a network of business training programs like those at TechTown and the M@dison and with cash awards like those handed out by the Motor City Match, NEIdeas, and Hatch Detroit competitions. In early November, the NEIdeas program is expected to announce the next 30 winners of its $10,000 cash awards to small businesses in Detroit.
“This is part of a much bigger small-business ecosystem,” Rod Miller, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said of the Motor City Match awards. “We’re all working together to make this work. We’ve got a lot of need in the city, but what’s beautiful, these programs aren’t one-off, they’re all coordinated. We’re really building what I would argue is the most robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country for businesses.”
David Egner, president of the Hudson-Webber Foundation and also executive director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeastern Michigan, echoed that.
“We’ve got an ecosystem developing for entrepreneurship in the Detroit region that rivals any in the world,” Egner said. He noted that J&G Pallets, one of the $100,000 recipients in the Motor City Match grants, also was a $100,000 winner in the inaugural NEIdeas contest last year, created by the New Economy Initiative to support existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
“The NEIdeas programs and Motor City Match feed off one another perfectly,” said Egner, not only in providing cash but also mentors and a range of business services to help small companies grow and create more jobs.
Detroit’s version of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is much different from that found in the Silicon Valley area of California, where venture capitalists pour billions of dollars into high-tech start-ups in hopes of creating the next Apple or Google. In Detroit, the variety of programs cater to a more diverse and neighborhood-based roster of businesses, including restaurants, construction firms, bicycle shops, dentist officers, clothing makers, and more.
It is with such small firms based in neighborhoods that the city hopes to revitalize Detroit’s hard-hit neighborhoods.
“The companies we’re announcing today are on the leading edge of Detroit’s growth,” Duggan said.
Funding for Motor City Match comes from several sources. The City of Detroit uses some of its federal Community Development Block Grant funds to support the program, and money also comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Erb Family Foundation, Kresge Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, the New Economy Initiative of Southeastern Michigan, Bank of America, and Fifth Third Bank.
The 10 Detroit firms winning cash awards Tuesday were:
Detroit Training Center, a vocational education firm focused on education.
J&G Pallets, manufacturer of pallets from new and recycled wood.
Artesian Farms, indoor agriculture.
Mo’ Better Blues, a jazz-themed restaurant.
Pedicure & Shoes 2 Go, a nail and shoe salon.
Woodward Throwbacks, a manufacturer of reclaimed woodwork home goods.
Coffee and (__), a coffee shop and cafe
Sovereign AEC, construction management, architects, and civil engineering
Mama Rita Foods, public and wholesale food products
Hi Def Graphfxs and Media, design, printing, and marketing
Tom Walsh contributed to this story.
Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.
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Olympia Development of Michigan
Since the late 1980s, the Ilitches have invested more than $1 billion downtown
“The Ilitch activity certainly has sparked lots of interest,” “There’s a lot of potential for retail, housing and they have already demolished one building they purchased,”
Rockbridge Growth Equity LLC
Quicken Loans moved its headquarters and 1,700 of its team members to downtown Detroit in August 2010, where Gilbert and the company are helping lead a revitalization of Detroit’s urban core. Today, Gilbert-owned businesses employ 11,500 people in the city.
In 2011, Gilbert’s Rock Ventures group purchased several buildings in downtown Detroit, including the historic Madison Theatre Building, Chase Tower and Two Detroit Center (parking garage), Dime Building (renamed Chrysler House), First National Building and three smaller buildings on Woodward Avenue. In 2012, Rock Ventures (the umbrella entity formed to provide operational coordination, guidance and integration of Gilbert’s portfolio of companies, investments and real estate) purchased the former Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Detroit Branch Building, Woodward Avenue, 1201 Woodward (Kresge Building), and five smaller buildings on Woodward Avenue and Broadway Street, totaling 630,000 square feet of commercial space in downtown Detroit. In 2013, Rock Ventures purchased the 1001 Woodward office tower, several smaller buildings in the downtown area and announced, along with The Downtown Detroit Partnership and the Detroit Economic Growth Group, a placemaking plan for revitalizing Detroit’s urban core.
Rock Ventures’ downtown Detroit real estate investments include more than 60 properties (buildings and/or store fronts) totaling 9 million square feet. Four million square feet is commercial space; another 3.6 million square feet is parking (10,096 parking spaces).