Detroit group offers $400,000 to help small businesses grow

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Got an idea to grow your business? A local group is offering $400,000 to help people get their small businesses off the ground.

Joe Spencer has enjoyed success running his Louisiana Creole Gumbo restaurant business since the late 1980s. He was even able to open a second location.

But as he set out to grow his businesses, he says there were some challenges.

"Raising capital is always a challenge for small businesses," he said. "When you are a small business you don't have that great credit line. Allot of times you don't have the track record to get the kind of capital you need to start new parts of your business."

But Spencer says his restaurant business got a big boost last year when he became the recipient of a $100,000-dollar cash award provided by the NEIdeas Small Business Challenge.

"We were able to buy some new equipment," he said. "In this case we bought buying two mobile food catering trucks to serve our community which will be going around to underserved areas."

Spencer says one of his new food trucks will make its debut Friday and that's why he wants to encourage other small business owners to apply for the challenge which is a program of the New Economy Initiative.

"This year we're going to be giving twenty $10,000 awards to businesses that gross less than $750,000 a year," said Matt Lewis, with the NEI. "And two 100,000 awards for businesses that gross between $750,000 to $5 million a year.

But to apply your business has to meet some requirements

"NEIdeas is open to businesses that have been operating at least three years at the time of the close of the application period June 1," Lewis said. "And they have to be in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park."

Matthew Lewis says having a compelling idea to grow your business is crucial to being selected but your plan must also help others.

"The whole idea is to express an idea for growth that can have a positive impact not only on the bottom line but help them hire residents in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck." 

Organizers of this program say it's initiatives like this that help foster Detroit's renaissance.

The deadline to apply for the challenge is June 1st to learn more about the process CLICK HERE.