New Economy Initiative Unveils Challenge Awarding $500,000 To Existing Small Businesses


New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), announced this morning the launch of NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth, a two-tiered challenge awarding $500,000 to existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.

The challenge, which will officially launch when entry for applications opens on Thursday, May 8, will grant cash awards to 32 existing businesses, as well as provide access to support for small businesses in all of those cities.  Businesses must be at least three years old to enter. NEIdeas will be run in partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. 

“While we recognize and support all the energy around Detroit’s start up scene, we feel it’s important to celebrate the small existing businesses across Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park that have been the cornerstone of their communities for years,” said David O. Egner, Executive Director, NEI. “More importantly, by providing some capital assistance and connecting them to resources, we feel we can help them grow and create jobs, further strengthening their neighborhoods.” 

NEIdeas will feature two types of awards:

  •  $10,000 for businesses that gross under $1 million annually with ideas to grow
  • $100,000 for businesses that gross more than $1 million and under $5 million annually that have ideas to grow ‘big’

Thirty applicants will be awarded $10k each and two higher-grossing businesses will be awarded $100k each. By applying for the challenge, all businesses will gain connection to other small businesses and entrepreneurs, access to resources, and exposure.

“We work with small businesses every day through many of our programs,” added Waymon Guillebeaux, Executive Vice President, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “We are pleased that NEIdeas will help us connect more companies to the Detroit Business Support Network we convene, giving us more chances to help them grow.”

The application for NEIdeas will be available on May 8 online at  Printed applications will also be available at more than 20 community organizations, associations and churches across Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park that will serve as “Ambassador” locations for the challenge.  For-profit businesses providing products and services of all kinds can submit completed applications online, via email or US Mail. 

Application deadlines for the $10k and $100k challenges are as follows:

  • $10K applicants will need to submit their application by June 5
  • $100K applicants will need to submit by June 26

After the application period closes, NEIdeas will narrow the pool of applicants and forward the semi-finalists to a jury, which will be comprised of empathetic entrepreneurs, non-profit partners and corporate partners that will be able to evaluate applicants without themselves being able to participate in the NEIdeas challenge.   The jury will then recommend finalists. If selected, the applicants will be asked to submit some additional information about their business.  The recipients of the $10k challenge will be notified in September, the winners of the $100k challenge will be notified by November.


About The New Economy Initiative

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) is a $130 million philanthropic effort to help make thousands of ideas the next economic engine by getting entrepreneurs and small businesses what they need, when the need it, in order to succeed and grow. This unprecedented initiative is supported by the following national, regional and local foundations: the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit), the William Davidson Foundation (Southfield), the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield, Michigan), the Ford Foundation (New York), the Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Michigan), the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (Miami), The Kresge Foundation (Troy, Michigan), the McGregor Fund (Detroit), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, Michigan), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit). The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which initiated the collaborative, is serving as its administrative home. For more information, please visit

About Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC)

DEGC is a non-profit organization that serves as the lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction and economic development initiatives in the city of Detroit. DEGC is led by a 60-member board comprised of business, civic, labor and community leaders. Its 40 professionals provide staff services for key public authorities that offer tax credits and other forms of financing for projects that bring new jobs or economic activity to the city. Among them: the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (DBRA), Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC), Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), and Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA). DEGC also provides planning, project management and other services under contract to the City of Detroit.(



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