building a network of support that gets small businesses what they need, when they need it.
A robust regional economy requires strong, vibrant neighborhoods—places people choose to live because of the amenities and opportunities they afford. For this reason, NEI believes it is critical to build and sustain an infrastructure that supports the neighborhood businesses contributing jobs and a sense of place to their communities.
To support the development and sustainability of neighborhood businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, NEI launched its neighborhood strategy in 2014. NEI refined that strategy in 2017 by refocusing on elements that have proven successful, including:
- Providing grants to three community development corporations serving entrepreneurs in three Detroit neighborhoods: Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation in northwest Detroit, Central Detroit Christian CDC in the North End, and the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance in northeast Detroit.
- Supporting organizations such as ACCESS, Build Institute, TechTown SWOT, Accounting Aid Society, ProsperUS Detroit, and FoodLab that provide neighborhood entrepreneurs with training and services.
- Convening a quarterly worktable dedicated to enhancing business advocacy in the neighborhoods, strengthening new and existing businesses’ readiness to access capital, and promoting the availability of accessible neighborhood retail and commercial space.
In 2017, the neighborhood worktable grew to 35 member organizations, including both grantees and other organizations dedicated to business development and growth in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park. The worktable has created a space for citywide, cross-sector collaborations in support of small businesses, as well as actual tools those organizations can use to better serve their constituents, including a capital readiness checklist and a series of one-pagers describing various place-based economic development tools.