The city of Detroit has announced a partnership with Detroit-based Rebrand Cities and Quicken Loans Community Fund to get more small businesses in Detroit online as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Web designers will work with local business owners to build websites.
Up to 100 participating businesses will get free web hosting for three months, website development training, virtual office hours and study halls, and more. To qualify, businesses must be located in the city, have been established before Dec. 31, 2019, and show the need for support with website development.
The initial wave is a pilot program. It could scale to thousands more businesses over the next 12 months to 18 months.
The Digital Detroit Virtual Website Accelerator was created by the city and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an effort to address the need for businesses to have the opportunity to continue operations virtually. Applications for the five-week accelerator opened today. They close at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday and are available here.
Applicants will be notified whether they will participate on Monday, May 4. The cohort will take place from May 11-June 8.
“Many small businesses do not have the budget to invest in branding and website development, especially during this time when it is uncertain if they will be able to cover payroll and common business expenses,” says Charity Dean, director of the Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity Department at the city of Detroit. “We are doing everything in our power to fill in the gaps for them.”
Rebrand Cities is a global civic initiative with a goal to get 10,000 local businesses online. To date, there have been activations in nine cities: Detroit; Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Los Angeles; Mesa, Ariz.; Miami; Boston; Memphis; and Port Au Prince, Haiti.
“This investment will support Detroit-based businesses to both survive this pandemic and thrive in a world where virtual sales are increasingly important,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of Quicken Loans Community Fund. “By building an online platform, our community can continue to support the brands we love, and Detroit’s entrepreneurs can showcase their product to the world.”
The Quicken Loans Community Fund has also partnered with Detroit on Feeding the Frontlines, an initiative that supports struggling restaurants and sends meals to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund is the philanthropic arm of Detroit’s Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest mortgage lender. Its goal is to support thriving, resilient, and inclusive communities through data-driven investments in housing, employment, and public life. Since 2010, it has invested more than $200 million into addressing social issues such as tax foreclosure, chronic unemployment, and supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem. It also has provided more than 725,000 volunteer hours nationwide, including 400,000 in Detroit.