DETROIT — TechTown Detroit announced today that it was awarded a one-year, $180,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to support its Blocks Retail Boot Camp and the expansion of its SWOT City program to Detroit’s historic University District.
The grant is part of the foundation’s $100 million investment in Detroit. Over the next five years, its grants and loans will accelerate Detroit’s blight-removal efforts, strengthen workforce development, fund urban redevelopment projects, train entrepreneurs and more.
“Support from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation will allow TechTown to breathe new energy into its work – delivering, with urgency, a meaningful and efficient expansion of its existing services,” said Leslie Smith, president and CEO of TechTown. “These strategies will help move Detroit with purpose, commitment and intent toward a new economic and social reality.”
TechTown’s Blocks Retail Boot Camp is a competitive program that prepares serious entrepreneurs with strong retail concepts for the successful launch of their brick-and-mortar business in a core Detroit commercial district after program completion.
Weekly sessions facilitated by business development and retail experts are designed to be Detroit-specific, with topics ranging from government regulations and processes, to taxes and insurance and sound fiscal management. The program culminates with a showcase where the top three performers are awarded prize funds that provide critical start-up capital, network support to identify appropriate and affordable permanent retail space, and ongoing technical business support delivered through TechTown’s SWOT City program. To receive these services, the entrepreneurs are required to meet regularly with an assigned mentor and achieve critical, tightly woven milestones.
Depending on the retail concept and market need, the storefront may be located in one of TechTown’s SWOT City neighborhoods, Midtown or downtown. These districts are already the focus of local density creation strategies, where efforts to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs are affected by the lack of start-up capital, affordable space and ongoing technical business support.
Support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation for the Retail Boot Camp program, paired with TechTown’s existing resources, will turn aspiring entrepreneurs into prepared and supported business owners. The permanent retail businesses created as a result of this program will help build density and vibrancy in our city’s neighborhoods.
Under the grant, TechTown will also expand its SWOT City program into the University District.