In Detroit, 136 businesses have been selected as finalists for this year’s NEIdeas challenge, a program rewarding existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park with a total of $400,000 in cash prizes for their ideas for growth. The finalists were selected from a pool of 693 applicants from across Detroit that submitted ideas by the June 1 application deadline. This is the largest number of applicants in NEIdeas’ 4-year history. This fall, 20 of the finalists will be selected to win $10,000 each for their ideas to grow, and two others will be selected to win $100,000 each for their ideas to “grow big.”

NEIdeas is a program of the New Economy Initiative (NEI) and is run in partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. Its mission is to support existing businesses in a way that will maintain and strengthen them in the cities and the neighborhoods that need them most.

Since 2014, NEIdeas has awarded a total of $1.5 million to 96 businesses and provided all applicants with opportunities to access small business support services. NEIdeas has engaged more than 2,000 small businesses representing every ZIP code in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.

“We are thrilled at both the number and quality of applications we received for this year’s NEIdeas challenge,” said Pamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative. “The strength of these applications is a testament to the creativity and resilience of small business owners throughout the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.”

This year’s finalists include businesses ranging in age from 3 to 92 years old that span many sectors – from chocolatiers to jewelers, creative firms to construction companies, restaurants to manufacturers, boutiques to barber shops. Applicants’ ideas for growth include marketing their products and services, purchasing equipment, updating facilities, acquiring work vehicles, and much more.

For a list of 2017 NEIdeas $10K and $100K challenge finalists, click here:

The NEIdeas application is simple – roughly 400 words describing an idea for growth and that idea’s potential to impact the community and create jobs. Businesses grossing less than $750,000 annually are eligible for the $10K challenge, and businesses grossing between $750,000 and $5 million annually are eligible for the $100K challenge. For the official NEIdeas program guidelines, click here:

Before finalists were selected, every application was evaluated by NEI and DEGC staff. Next, an independent jury composed of community leaders, small business owners, and past NEIdeas winners will review the finalist pool and recommend winners to NEI and CFSEM.

To date, 70 percent of NEIdeas-winning businesses are minority-owned, and 65 percent are woman-owned. For a list of past NEIdeas winners, visit

“We’re proud that our past challenge winners reflect the residents and neighborhoods of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park,” said Lewis. “That’s in large part thanks to the DEGC’s robust outreach efforts and our 29 ambassador organizations, who encouraged and assisted applicants from their neighborhoods.”

Regardless of whether an applicant receives a cash award, all NEIdeas participants are matched with opportunities to grow their businesses, ranging from workshops on small business needs to personalized connections to small business support organizations in NEI’s network of grantees.

“NEIdeas is about more than just money – it’s about connecting small businesses to the vast network of support in Detroit that exists to help them thrive,” said Lewis.

An announcement of the winners of the $10,000 and $100,000 cash awards will be made later in the fall. Visit for updates.


About the New Economy Initiative

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) is a regional economic development initiative working to build a network of support for entrepreneurs and small businesses in southeast Michigan. A special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, NEI is supported by 13 local and national foundations. The mission of NEI is to create an inclusive, innovative regional culture by reawakening and leveraging Detroit’s creative entrepreneurial drive. The overarching goal is to establish a more diverse economy where opportunity, wealth, and prosperity are available to all. To learn more, visit:

NEI is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Ford Foundation, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the William Davidson Foundation.

For more information, please visit

Contact: Matthew Lewis, communications officer, New Economy Initiative, 313-961-6675,

Heather George, lovio george, 248-417-5773 (mobile),

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