NEI Supports Small Businesses with $500,000 Challenge


The New Economy Initiative, an economic development effort aimed at building a network of support for new entrepreneurs and enterprises, is urging small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park to “think big” as part of new challenge awarding up to $500,000 for the best ideas on growing a company.

“While we recognize and support all the energy around Detroit’s start up scene, we feel it’s important to celebrate the small existing businesses across Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park that have been the cornerstone of their communities for years,” says David Egner, executive director of the NEI. “More importantly, by providing some capital assistance and connecting them to resources, we feel we can help them grow and create jobs, further strengthening their neighborhoods.”

Called “NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth,” the challenge is open to businesses that are at least three years old. It will grant cash awards to 32 applicants with the best ideas for growth. Ideas can be “as ambitious as Berry Gordy’s Motown” or “as simple as one more barbershop chair,” say program officials. Of those selected, 30 applicants will be awarded $10,000 each and two higher-volume businesses — revenue of more than $1 million and under $5 million annually  — will be awarded $100,000 each.

“We are seeing more and more the impact small businesses are having in revitalizing Detroit’s economy and programs like NEIdeas are a big part of the reason why,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “Today, there are thousands of small businesses in the city of Detroit that employ only one or two people. Receiving a strategic infusion of cash like this can be just the boost an existing small company needs to grow and create more jobs for our local economy.”

The program, which launches May 8, will run in partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. “We work with small businesses every day through many of our programs. We are pleased that NEIdeas will help us connect more companies to the Detroit Business Support Network we convene, giving us more chances to help them grow,” says Waymon Guillebeaux, a senior vice president at DEGC.

Applications for the $10,000 challenge are due by June 5, and submissions for the $100,000 challenge are due by June 26. For more information, visit

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