Announcing 134 finalists for the NEIdeas $10K and $100k small business challenge
Thirty $10K winners and two $100K winners will be selected in the fall
DETROIT (27 July 2016) – A total of 134 businesses have been selected as finalists for this year’s NEIdeas challenge, a program rewarding existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park with cash for their ideas for growth. Over 600 businesses submitted ideas by the challenge’s June 1 application deadline. This fall, 30 of the finalists will be selected to win $10,000 each for their ideas to grow, and two others will be selected to win $100,000 each for their ideas to “grow big.”
NEIdeas is a program of the New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), and is run in partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC). Over the last two years, NEIdeas has awarded a total of $1 million to 64 businesses and provided all applicants with opportunities to access small business support services. Since its launch in 2014, NEIdeas has engaged nearly 1,800 small businesses representing every ZIP code in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
“We are thrilled at both the number and quality of applications we received for this year’s NEIdeas challenge,” said Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative. “The strength of these applications is a testament to the strength and resilience of small business owners throughout the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.”
This year’s finalists include businesses ranging in age from 3 to 107 years old and spanning many sectors, from chocolatiers to car washes, restaurants to construction companies, marketing firms to manufacturers, boutiques to frame shops. Applicants’ ideas for growth include purchasing software to promote their products and services, adding production equipment, building out new facilities, acquiring work vehicles, improving facades, and much more.
For a list of 2016 NEIdeas $10K challenge finalists, click here:‎.
For a list of 2016 NEIdeas $100K challenge finalists, click here:
The NEIdeas application was designed to be simple. Applicants were asked to submit roughly 400 words describing an idea for growth and that idea’s potential to impact the community and create jobs. Businesses grossing less than $750,000 annually were eligible for the $10K challenge, and businesses grossing between $750,000 and $5 million annually were eligible for the $100K challenge. For the official NEIdeas program guidelines, click here:
Before finalists were selected, every application was evaluated by NEI and DEGC staff members as well as an independent jury composed of community leaders, small business owners, and past NEIdeas winners. 2016 winners will be selected from the finalist pool through a similar process.
Nearly 40 percent of this year’s NEIdeas finalists had applied to the challenge in past years. In 2015, nearly a third of NEIdeas winners were applicants in 2014. To date, 71 percent of NEIdeas-winning businesses are minority-owned, and 64 percent are woman-owned.
“We’re proud that our challenge winners reflect the residents and neighborhoods of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park,” said Lewis. “That’s in large part thanks to the DEGC’s robust outreach efforts and our 29 ambassador organizations, who encouraged and assisted applicants from their neighborhoods.”
Regardless of whether an applicant receives a cash award, all NEIdeas participants are connected with opportunities to grow their businesses, ranging from workshops designed around different small business needs to 1-on-1 assessments from small business support organizations in NEI’s network of grantees.
“We’re seeing a lot of small businesses stay engaged with this challenge,” said Lewis. “It’s really about more than just money – it’s about connecting small businesses to the vast network of support in Detroit that exists to help them thrive.”
An announcement of the winners of the $10,000 and $100,000 cash awards will be made later in the fall. Visit for updates.
About the New Economy Initiative
The New Economy Initiative (NEI) is a $136-million special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Since it was formed in 2007, NEI has grown to become the largest economic development initiative of its kind in the United States. NEI’s mission is to create an inclusive, innovative regional culture by reawakening and leveraging Detroit’s creative entrepreneurial drive in order to establish a more diverse regional economy where opportunity, wealth and prosperity are available for all. Since 2009, NEI has awarded over $96 million in grants. NEI’s grantees have provided technical assistance to over 4,400 companies while exposing more than 174,000 individuals to entrepreneurial services.
NEI is supported by the following national, regional and local foundations: the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit), the William Davidson Foundation (Southfield, Michigan), the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield, Michigan), the Ford Foundation (New York), the Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Michigan), the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (Miami), The Kresge Foundation (Troy, Michigan), the McGregor Fund (Detroit), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, Michigan), Surdna Foundation (New York) and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit).
For more information, please visit
Contact: Matthew Lewis, communications officer, New Economy Initiative, 313-961-6675,
Heather George, lovio george, 248-417-5773 (mobile),