Keona Cowan, who leads our small business and real estate programs, and Jennifer Hayes, who oversees our public policy work, discuss why the Detroit Means Business initiative started and what it hopes to accomplish now and in the future. The initiative is a partnership of 60 organizations dedicated to the survival and long-term growth of Detroit’s small business community.
As we all know, the small business community in Detroit is a vital part of our economy. In addition to keeping dollars local, our small businesses provide resources and jobs to our residents and are a leading driver of success in our neighborhoods. Strengthening our city and neighborhoods in a way that is equitable and inclusive relies heavily on the health of our city’s small business community and support for our small business owners—many of whom are community leaders and help guide the direction of Detroit’s future. With the COVID-19 pandemic having such a devastating impact, our small businesses need more support than ever.
That’s why early on in the pandemic, a group of more than 60 public, private, and philanthropic leaders, along with leaders from Detroit-based, nonprofit business support organizations (BSO’s) and civic-minded small business entrepreneurs, mobilized in record time to create a small business resource named Detroit Means Business. This is a first-of-its-kind, online collaboration solely focused on the needs of small businesses in Detroit, ensuring that there is a single source of comprehensive information to help these businesses survive.
Detroit Means Business (DMB) is an online platform that offers small business resources focused on helping to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic by providing information from a variety of partners that include topics like:
- Updates on mandatory Stay Home/Gathering and Face Mask Orders
- Access to reopening resources and guidance
- Connections with City of Detroit and Health Department resources
- Access to PPE information and giveaways
- Financial resources, including PPP and grant information
- Webinars with issues expert in time-sensitive topics
- Regular communications – weekly newsletters, social media
With constantly changing and updated information and so many local, state, and federal organizations offering help, it can be confusing and challenging to find all existing resources in one location. Detroit Means Business works to bring it all together so it’s easier for small business owners to navigate and find the help they need.
In addition to information, Detroit Means Business can connect small business owners with partner organizations to get real human help—answers to questions and free virtual coaching and support. One of many examples is Michigan Community Resources’ Virtual Legal Clinic that offers Detroit nonprofits, small businesses, and entrepreneurs (including those organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis) an opportunity to receive free legal advice during a 45-minute remote consultation with a volunteer attorney.
The Detroit Means Business effort has shown how quickly and passionately Detroiters can come together in a crisis, and we are confident that this will be a reliable resource for our small business community far into the future. As part of our long-term plan, we want to support small businesses by increasing access to capital and contracts, supporting job growth, removing regulatory barriers, and continuing to build a climate that invests in people of color.
There is still a lot of work to do, but we are grateful to the many partners who have joined this effort to ensure that the people who run, work for, or benefit from our small businesses can not only survive, but thrive. Small business support is one of the reasons Invest Detroit exists—it is a crucial component of our mission and we are proud to be part of this community effort to help our own. We want to thank Mayor Duggan for championing Detroit Means Business and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation for giving it a place to land.
You can sign up to receive weekly newsletters, follow DMB on Facebook and Instagram and learn more at DetroitMeansBusiness.org.