DETROIT — TechTown Monday announced a $150,000 grant from the Marjorie S. Fisher Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The grant will support of the nonprofit incubator and accelerator’s recently launched business stabilization and development program in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood.
The one-year grant will enable TechTown to serve Brightmoor businesses through “Tune Up” sessions, one-on-one coaching and full SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Each of the businesses coached through the SWOT process are hand selected by TechTown and the Brightmoor Alliance — all must be integral to the long-term viability of the neighborhood. Soon the two organizations will begin to enlist potential entrepreneurs who can fill existing neighborhood gaps with products and services that residents want and need.
“Thriving small businesses within the neighborhoods of Detroit are critical to the economic health of their respective communities, each of which has a direct impact on the health of the city as a whole,” said Leslie Smith, president and CEO of TechTown, which is affiliated with Wayne State University. “Economic inclusion is central to urban revitalization. Therefore, our work in the neighborhoods of Detroit is not feel-good work; it is a critical component of our broader obligation to provide economic opportunities for all Detroiters. Only then will we be able to declare a full recovery in the city of Detroit.”
Added philanthropist Marjorie S. Fisher: “We need to invest in the talent and ingenuity in our neighborhoods. Everyone benefits when more of our neighbors gain access to business and job opportunities that allow them to thrive and create better lives for their children,” she added.
Brightmoor is a neighborhood of focus under TechTown’s SWOT City program, which is intended to strengthen Detroit’s neighborhood and district economies. Rather than serving businesses independent of community demand, SWOT City aims to serve a neighborhood, providing business expertise through a community cluster approach. To ensure the proper allocation of resources, TechTown’s SWOT City team targets neighborhoods with a stable community or economic development organization that can better identify struggling businesses of local importance. Together, TechTown and its partners also work to identify community-specific needs then seek out entrepreneurs to fill those voids.
TechTown found an ideal partner in the Brightmoor Alliance, a coalition of nearly 50 organizations already working to revitalize the community by addressing issues such as schools, employment, safety, housing, human services, shopping and recreation. It was founded 12 years ago in response to population loss, poor housing conditions, high crime rates and vacant land, and turned to TechTown to help it address the resulting economic impact.
TechTown recently began offering office hours on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Old Redford Community Resource Center at 17405 Lahser in Brightmoor, to better serve Brightmoor’s entrepreneurs.
Coaches, now fully immersed in the community, are available by appointment for half-hour business “Tune Up” sessions during this time.
“This crucial funding from the Marjorie S. Fisher Endowment Fund will allow us to increase our ability to deliver meaningful support to the Brightmoor community with urgency via expanded hours and with additional talent,” Smith said. “We seek to move with them with purpose, commitment and intent to a new economic and social reality — one that offers stable entrepreneurial employment and the support infrastructure necessary to thrive in the place they call home.”