Crain’s: Small-business program to award $500,000 in Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck

And they say there’s no such thing as free money.

This morning, the New Economy Initiative announced it will be giving out $500,000 worth of grants to existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. A standing-room only crowd showed up at Motor City Java & Tea House  in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood to hear the announcement.

“While we recognize and support all the energy around Detroit’s startup scene, we feel it’s important to celebrate the small existing businesses that have been the cornerstone of their communities for years,” said David Egner, executive director of NEI, which is a project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The NEIdeas program, as it is being called, will dole out grants in two forms: 30 awards of $10,000 each for small businesses with revenues of less than $1 million annually and two awards of $100,000 for businesses with revenues of between $1 million and $5 million annually.

The money is coming from NEI as part of its recapitalization. The program is a partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which is providing the community engagement role and will be organizing the judging.

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