NEIdeas contest draws close to 600 entries from Detroit small businesses

Nearly 600 small businesses in Detroit, many with just one or two employees, entered to win $10,000 or $100,000 grants in the NEIdeas competition to help the city’s smallest employers grow.

New Economy Initiative, which runs the competition, will hand out the cash this fall to 32 winning businesses. But all of the entrants will receive mentoring or referrals.

“What we do with the non-winners is to us just as important as what we do with the winners,” said Jim Boyle, a spokesman for the contest.

Launched this spring, NEIdeas has drawn applicants ranging from small urban farms in Detroit that need a tractor to architecture and contracting firms that need a truck to go to job sites. Other needs include facade and building improvements, marketing and advertising help, software and logistics, legal and accounting help and new product development. More than 500 applied for the $10,000 grants. Several dozen applied for the $100,000 grant.

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