Crain’s Detroit Business
Feb. 1, 2023
The latest round of Motor City Match cash award winners represent a wide range of industries, including fitness, retail, education, grocery and hospitality.
On Wednesday, Motor City Match awarded $1.3 million in cash grants to 32 Detroit-based businesses — 17 new businesses and 15 existing businesses. The 17 new businesses cover 15 Detroit neighborhoods, including Warrendale, North Campau, Chalfonte, the University District, and Martin Park.
About 74% of the businesses are minority-owned, with 60% being women-owned, and 68% owned by Detroit residents.
Neighborhood Grocery LLC, which plans to open a full-serve grocery store at 500 Manistique St. in the city’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood, is the big winner in Round 21 of the program, earning an $85,000 grant.
Founder and Detroit resident Raphael Wright said Motor City Match helps show how much talent is in the city.
“We grind. We hustle,” Wright said during the Wednesday event. “I saw the decline in the city. That’s what planted the seed for me to do what I’m doing. It starts with food. If we’re going to lead citizens, we have to feed them.
Neighborhood Grocery got its start as a crowdfunded initiative.
“I don’t come from wealth. I didn’t have two pennies to rub together when I started this. During the pandemic, I was able to show people what I’m trying to do and show them I’m an ally in the city. The things everybody else wants, I want them, too. This a win for everybody.”
Round 21 represents the second time Motor City Match has awarded more than $1 million in cash grants, up from from $500,000 per quarter, with additional funds coming from American Rescue Plan Act funds. The Motor City Match program is managed by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called Motor City Match’s impact remarkable.
“Neighborhoods that have lacked basic services and amenities for years are now seeing a real diversity of high-quality businesses opening along their commercial corridors, within walking distance of many residents,” Duggan said in a news release. “This program has been a major part of our strategy to strengthen and rebuild our neighborhoods.”
The 17 new businesses shared $965,000 in grants that will aid owners in opening a brick-and-mortar location in Detroit. Another $341,000 went to 15 existing businesses for improvements to their current spaces.
The program also handed out awards to 48 additional businesses in its Business Plan, Develop, and Design tracks. Those awards offer technical assistance, including business services, workshops, and one-on-one consulting for Detroit businesses still developing their projects.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and communities. They provide a tax base to fund our schools and city services, they provide jobs, and they provide goods and services within residents’ own backyard,” DEGC President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson said in the release. “If we want a strong, functional economy, then we need the small business community to thrive.”
Acclaimed fashion designer and Detroiter Tracey Reese earned a $55,000 cash grant for her Hope for Flowers business, which will offer fashion design, education and training in a space at 119 Garfield Ave. Reese will also offer free Saturday art classes for Detroit public school and charter school students, as well as Thursday adult art enrichment courses.
“I’m a Detroiter. I went to (Detroit Public Schools). I want to make sure young people have the same opportunities I did,” Reese said Wednesday. “This will be a flagship location for Hope for Flowers and show what Detroiters can do and what we’re made of.”
Thaddaeus Irby earned a $25,000 cash grant for his business, the yoga and wellness studio Balance & Flow. The studio, to be located at 18728 W. Warren Ave., is slated to open next month. Irby said the award will help him and co-founder Princess Galloway accelerate their plans.
“This has been a process for us, but it’s worth it,” Irby said. “Not only is yoga meditation, it helps your physical, spiritual and mental well-being. We’re creating a place for all to enjoy.”
Since 2015, Motor City Match has distributed $11.4 million in cash grants, with a total leveraged investment of $61.6 million.
It has awarded aid to more than 1,600 businesses, resulting in 143 new brick-and-mortar businesses currently operating across the city. The quarterly grant pool has been increased to $1 million for new businesses and $250,000 to existing businesses operating in the city for at least one year. More than 60 businesses that have received aid from Motor City Match are under construction.
Integrating ARPA funding into the program represents a continuation of the city’s efforts to support businesses in combating the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The DEGC administered more than $15 million in pandemic relief grants between March 2020 and March 2021 and introduced the Detroit Means Business platform to provide wrap-around services for businesses. ARPA funding, approved last year by Detroit City Council, has allowed Motor City Match and the DEGC to continue those efforts and target support to underserved Detroit entrepreneurs.
“Small businesses are an integral part of what makes Detroit special. I am ecstatic that this round of Motor City Match Awardees is receiving the largest amount of funds from the program to date, for the purpose of either starting or continuing to build out the awardees’ businesses,” City Council President Mary Sheffield said in a statement. “This serves as a clear signal to prospective business owners that there are resources and support services available to assist in making their dreams come true.”
Tori Hicks earned a $50,000 cash grant for her Youthnique business, a startup center that offers entrepreneurial education. Hicks, a Detroit native, called her business a labor of love.
“I started this 13 years ago. I had some failures, heard some ‘no’s,’ but I had some successes, too,” Hicks said. “With this center, I can help businesses and nonprofits get a jump on things and do things the right way so they can stand up here, too.”
Applications for Round 23 open March 1. More information at motorcitymatch.com.