Tech Town Detroit aiming new grant money at freelancers, home-based small businesses

In recent weeks Tech Town Detroit has offered grant money to small businesses, hopefully helping them survive this economic collapse. Now they're trying to help freelancers and home-based businesses, too. 

"Forty-seven percent of small businesses have less than two weeks of cash on hand at any given time. If you go into predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhoods, that number jumps above over 90 percent," Tech Town Detroit President and CEO Ned Stabler explained. So what happens when you factor in a deadly virus and a stay-home order that forces many businesses to temporarily close? Businesses start to suffer; small businesses even more.

"When you're a freelancer, a sole proprietor, a baker, a smaller service business, you have fewer resources." So Stabler knew they needed to act fast. 

Organizers started raising money and gave grants up to $5,000 to 350 small businesses.

But some businesses continue to need help, even as the federal government provides aid to businesses through its CARES Act.

"These are the folks that are doing hair and nails, they're catering events," Stabler said. "Home-based businesses are getting shut out because most of them don't have existing relationships with banks."

So Tech Town raised even more money and a second round of applications are currently being reviewed to provide grants.

"This second round, we realized we weren't able to help sole proprietors, the makers, the home-based, so we're really focused this round on those folks," he said. They got almost 600 applicants, and those selected for the grant will be notified this week.

But many companies still need help - but Tech Town has run out of grant money to start a third round of grant assistance.

"I can't help more businesses until I get more funds. But if I get more funds I know I have the demand to help the businesses."

And Tech Town is confident that those who can help, will.

"Detroit hustles harder, and we'll make sure the money gets into hands of the struggling small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. There are the places that have been feeding you, that have been cutting your lawn, doing your hair and your nails so they'll be there on the other side of this."

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