These are strange and scary times. There’s no getting around that, but seeing so many organizations step up and try to help makes everything a little brighter.
Here in Detroit, the community is coming together to help support one another, especially small businesses. And our friends at TechTown are really stepping up to the plate.
You know them as Detroit’s Entrepreneurship Hub, an incubator and accelerator for startups and small businesses. They’re a great resource for so many entrepreneurs in the city, and they’re launching a new program to help assist business owners during these tough times.
TechTown’s Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund is an emergency fund administered to help qualifying small businesses through working capital grants of up to $5,000.
Kelly Kozlowski, COO of TechTown, said a fund like this is all about the timing and scale.
“So many of Detroit's small businesses need immediate relief in a time like this, and while the larger capital infusions that will likely come weeks or months from now can be incredibly helpful, the reality is that many businesses aren't positioned to be able to wait that long,” Kelly said.
This response is part of a coordinated local effort. They’re teaming up with micro- and small business lenders, the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and with state and national partners like the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Small Business Administration.
It’s all about helping 'mom-and-pop' businesses, Kelly said. They often operate on tight margins and have limited (or low) cash reserves—and they’re the kinds of businesses that make our community unique.
“TechTown exists to serve small businesses—from tech startups to neighborhood shops and restaurants—and the latter are the businesses that suffer first in this kind of economic crisis,” Kelly said. “They're relying on us and others in the community to be fast on our feet in identifying solutions and deploying resources, and TechTown is able to be particularly agile.”
Grants can be used to cover daily operating expenses like payroll or revenue losses from destabilizing events like COVID-19. Applications for the fund are now open, and it’s available to all citywide businesses that meet the criteria. This includes having a low to moderate household income, no more than ten employees, experiencing loss of income due to the pandemic, and more.
“In addition to launching this fund and rapidly making grants, we are focused on the support services that help businesses navigate big decisions that accompany crisis situations,” Kelly added. “Small businesses absolutely need to be taking action right now, but maybe that starts with some expert support to help them decide what those actions should be.”
TechTown can help with that, too. Business owners can make an appointment for Open Office Hours and get immediate guidance from a member of the TechTown team who is familiar with the unique conditions of the Detroit market. You can also schedule an Ask An Expert appointment with a member of TechTown's Professional Services Network—a network of subject matter experts who donate their time to support local businesses. TechTown is also creating a guide geared specifically toward small businesses. It includes tactics that can be easily implemented in marketing, finance, operations, and staffing.
To apply for the stabilization fund, check out all the information here. The application period ends March 27th. You can also donate to the fund to help support local businesses.
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