Awarding Motor City Match Grants

Detroit’s on the rebound.

In his final Detroit visit as Vice President, that was the key message delivered by Joe Biden as he spoke Tuesday to small business owners as part of the Motor City Match (MCM) program.  A program which recognized grant winners and was held at the Detroit School for Digital Technology (DSDT), in Southwest Detroit.  Fifteen businesses were awarded grants totaling $600,000

Regarding its revitalization, the Vice President touted the city’s resilience, toughness and its reputation for hard work.

Biden believes the city is rebounding due to the “grit of the people” and proudly mentioned one of the current administration’s success stories is the Motor City’s comeback by simply stating, “Detroit is the single, shining example of the America spirit”.

And he also called Detroit an “iconic city known throughout the world.”

Since MCM’s inception, nearly $3 million in grant funds have been awarded to more than 60 local businesses and has assisted more than 570 entrepreneurs.  The program matches new and existing businesses with real estate opportunities and provides them with technical and resource support focused on business success.

MCM has recognized a diverse group of businesses to date:

76% are minority owned,

54% are minority-women owned,

68% are women owned, and

62% of are owned by native Detroiters

Rodrick Miller, President, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Mayor, Mike Duggan, welcomed participants and awarded grants, ranging from $10,000 – $75,000, to businesses opening and expanding across Detroit.  $600,000 represent the largest amount awarded since the program’s inception.

With a room packed full of entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, Detroit’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm and spirit were on full display.

And I couldn’t help but to harken back to 2009 when I started tracking and working on small business development and entrepreneurship in Detroit through collective efforts resulting from my business, columns, blogs and radio.  Back then, lights were certainly dimmed and overall enthusiasm was muted.

In 2017, however, it appears the entrepreneurial scene in Detroit continues to emerge and grow based on collaboration and partnership efforts.

For example, Invest Detroit is one MCM’s partners.  Derek Edwards, Vice President, said, “Today is the recognition of the realization of possibilities. Because of Motor City Match, the possibilities are becoming real and influencing future entrepreneurial ventures, not just locally, but on the world stage.”

There’s been much discussion regarding revitalization efforts across the entire city, including its neighborhoods.   Many of this year’s grantees have established and are looking to grow their businesses and several businesses have relocated into specific neighborhoods.

Edwards continues, “For Invest Detroit, providing capital in collaboration with the Motor City Match program helps to fuel the possibilities and the ultimate realization of revitalized neighborhoods in Detroit through the ingenuity of our local entrepreneurs.”

Collaboration continues to have a vital role in the program’s overall success.  “Motor City Match is a great example of public private partnerships,” says Ray Waters, President, Detroit Development Fund, “This program has been instrumental in bringing businesses back to Detroit neighborhoods.”

Waters points out DDF’s involvement has allowed the organization to work with and providing loan capital focused on helping these businesses succeed longer-term.

The Detroit Creative Corridor Center is another MCM partner.  Olga Stella, Executive Director, says, “While there are many services and programs available to entrepreneurs, Motor City Match is a backbone that partner services and programs can connect to.  It offers some structure to the naturally messy process of starting a business.”

It’s this level of commitment, collaboration and partnership which will enable Detroit’s entrepreneurial spirit to continue to grow, thrive and make a difference in a city where entrepreneurship and small business development will continue to have a major role in its revitalization efforts.

Jill Ford, Detroit’s Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, summed it up this way, “(MCM) is a phenomenal  culmination of a year and a half (work) by an extended team and (is) a benefit to the community.”