Knight grant supports neighborhood businesses in northwest Detroit

July 20th, 2015
ProsperUS entrepreneur Stephanie Whitfield displays items from her business - Salikas' Handcrafted Jewelry.

A program that advances small business growth in Detroit’s District 1 by offering residents buy-local incentives and providing business owners with resources and other support will expand with $100,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Led by Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., the expansion aims to improve neighborhood life and involve residents in enhancing vibrant commercial corridors in Detroit’s District 1, while helping businesses scale and grow.

Knight funding will help create new initiatives that encourage more people to buy from local businesses and get feedback from residents on the type of goods and services they would like to see in the neighborhood. To help businesses discover best practices, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. will do research into other buy-local programs will be conducted, charting successes and failures. In addition, the program will integrate data on what attracts customer support and builds sustainability in order to inform learning and business development opportunities for owners.

“Supporting neighborhood businesses obviously strengthens the financial bottom line for the business, but just as importantly for residents, it creates opportunities for job growth and increases the level of engagement between neighbors and the retailers who service them,” said District 1 Detroit Council Member James Tate, a lead on the effort. “This support will undoubtedly strengthen the effectiveness of the budding D1 Discount Days initiative. As a resident and elected official in City Council District 1, I am thankful for the opportunity to help boost our local economy and further positively impact the lives of Detroiters.”

“To foster vibrant commercial corridors in Detroit, we need people to invest in homegrown ideas and businesses,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “The expansion of the District 1 buy-local program will help bring more local jobs and economic growth to our city; residents will be part of the process, helping to create the type of neighborhood where people want to live. We’re very interested in how neighborhood retail invites more people and more life into the street. We also hope to learn from this effort so it can be duplicated in other neighborhoods.”

The project will be implemented by a steering committee including Executive Director of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. Tom Goddeeris; Special Adviser to Mayor Mike Duggan Jill Ford; District 1 Detroit Council Member James Tate; Vice President of Invest Detroit Derek Edwards; Director of ProsperUs Detroit Kimberly Faison; and Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. Olga Stella. Goddeeris, Tate and Ford will lead the effort. The group recently attended a Knight-supported knowledge-sharing trip to Portland, Ore., to explore local business development and its impact on city success. Expansion of the business support program in District 1 and formation of the steering committee grew out of this experience.

New funding for the program comes ahead of D1 Discount Days, an annual event that invites residents to explore the goods and services in their neighborhood. The July 24-26 event encourages residents to invest in their community, and promotes a more vibrant street life. It also helps business owners attract new customers and make connections.

Support for Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts in Detroit to attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement. Knight Foundation, along with several other funders, also provided support for Detroit’s “grand bargain,” an agreement between the state and the city to help ease Detroit out of bankruptcy. Since 2008, Knight has pledged more than $80 million to Detroit, including a $19.25 investment in the arts announced in October 2012.

This information is reprinted from a press release issued by the Knight Foundation on July 20, 2015:

Northwest Detroit neighborhood commercial districts to expand business support program, foster community connections with $100,000 from Knight Foundation

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