New Economy Initiative pumps $11.5M into programs to build businesses, jobs in Detroit

By Sherri Welch, Crain’s Detroit Business

Detroit’s entrepreneurial support system has been given a $11.5 million boost this year so far from theNew Economy Initiative. The grants are funding programs meant to spur company growth and additional job creation over the next three to five years.

The grants are the first made from NEI’s second round of funding, which currently totals $35 million but is expected to reach $40 million, Executive Director David Egner said.

About $85 million in grants made during NEI’s first round of funding led to the creation of 1,059 companies and 9,500 jobs since the end of 2009 to local support organizations and efforts, Egner said.

It’s too early to say how many of those companies are still operating, he said.

The grants made this year so far to 22 support organizations will help provide or connect entrepreneurs to essential business support, such as tools, ideas, talent, capital and operating locations.

The largest of NEI’s grants this year — $4 million — went to the Invest Detroit Foundation. This grant was to support the Detroit Innovate Fund, a venture capital and development organization supporting high-growth businesses in Detroit.

NEI provided ongoing funding for a number of other organizations and projects and new grants, including:

  • TechTown Detroit: $1 million to build a business incubator and accelerator and a neighborhood business support and entrepreneur program to develop and grow businesses in Detroit.
  • Edison Welding Institute: $1 million to fund the capital expenditures related to the launch of theAmerican Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a federally funded lightweight-materials institute in Detroit.
  • Detroit Economic Growth Association: $607,740 over 14 months for the D2D program, designed to strengthen a sustainable citywide system for increasing business-to-business procurement opportunities in Detroit.The association also received $430,000 to launch NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth, a citywide contest in cooperation partnership with NEI designed to energize and expand the culture of entrepreneurship and drive economic growth in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.
  • Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation Inc.: $100,000 to pilot Startgrid, a technology platform to create connections within the Southeast Michigan entrepreneurial ecosystem and across national investors and mentors.
  • Eastern Market Corp.: $500,000 to support its community kitchen, which will provide assistance for food entrepreneurs and businesses in metropolitan Detroit.
  • Inforum Center for Leadership: $300,000 over two years to provide comprehensive training programs and mentorship to high-tech and high- growth woman entrepreneurs.

Sherri Welch: (313) 446-1694, swelch@crain.com. Twitter: @sherriwelch

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