Ford’s Michigan Central launches a small business fund in Detroit

Ford launched a bootcamp offering training, grants and loans to small businesses near its Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

What’s happening: Applications are now open until June 30 for the $ 500,000 Advancing Community Businesses program, according to a press release first provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Small businesses still hurting from the pandemic don’t need money alone. They need it paired with individualized mentorship, like one-on-one coaching the nonprofit ProsperUs is providing, executive director Chanell Scott Contreras tells Axios.

  • Plus, even more people are turning to entrepreneurship during the pandemic.
  • ProsperUs and another nonprofit business education, Build Institute, are managing the new program. It joins a landscape of support that’s available to Detroit businesses but can be tough to navigate.

How it works: About 25 entrepreneurs near the train station will participate in classes and mentorship on e-commerce, digital marketing, financial planning, growth opportunities and more.

  • At the end of training, businesses can get $ 5,000- $ 20,000 each, the release says.

What they’re saying: “One of the reasons we chose (these nonprofits) is that they are really leading class in supporting Black and Brown, locally based businesses, and so we know they have a methodology that does that well,” Clarinda Barnett-Harrison, community impact lead for Ford’s Michigan Central operation, tells Axios.

Context: Dearborn-based Ford is spending approximately $ 950 million building an electric and autonomous vehicle campus in Corktown.

  • This business academy is part of $ 10 million in investments Ford agreed to commit to the community that its large-scale development will irrevocably change.
  • The automaker is funding small business support, affordable housing development, skilled trades and more in a deal with the city under the Community Benefits Ordinance.

Reality check: While Ford has fulfilled or is on track to meet many of its community benefits obligations, it remains to be seen just how much of a ripple effect the Michigan Central campus will have on housing prices. Concerns have been voiced about longtime residents getting priced out.

Michigan Central Station in Corktown. Photo: Annalize Frank / Axios


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