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13 Small Businesses in Detroit Selected for Motor City Match Grants in 18th Round

Detroit Free Press
Chanell Stitt

Jan. 26, 2022

A new round of small businesses have been awarded Motor City Match cash grants and the 13 winners expressed their gratitude for the program Wednesday.

The 18th round of the program is providing 63 business and building owners in all with assistance in funding, design, development, or planning. And a total pool of $500,000 will be distributed to the businesses that are receiving cash grants.

“What stood out about this round is that we have a lot of people that are ready to go,” said Drew Lucco, Motor City Match program director. “It’s been two years since we did a round, and people have been making moves during the pandemic. People have not slowed down.” Lucco said inflation is impacting construction costs, and some businesses needed a financial boost to get through that hurdle.

The 13 businesses that received $25,000 to $60,000 grants include Joyola Mei Hair, Fork in Nigeria, Mature, Detroit Dance Center, Supreme Café, RAMP Detroit, The Sandwich Lobby, Dulce Café and Bakery, Welcome Home Yoga & Wellness, Hooked on Books Child Care, Lily’s & Elise, Breadless Corporation and Detroit Soul.

“Motor City Match is continuing to give business owners the access and tools that they need to remove barriers between their success and the things that stand in front of them,” said Kevin Johnson, president, and chief executive officer of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “We see more investments in neighborhood businesses providing services with goods and services that they need, more Black-owned and women-owned businesses, more local jobs and more money to reinvest in the community for which we desperately need.”

The city of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are behind the program.

“We wanted to create a program for Detroiters to open their business and succeed in Detroit,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. He said there are plans to continue growing Motor City Match to “higher levels.”

In a news release, Duggan said there are plans to submit a proposal to City Council that will seek approval to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase the Motor City Match grant fund.

“No program in the country has the impact that Motor City Match does in creating a new generation of entrepreneurs, and the demand is only growing,” said Duggan. “During the nearly 70 community meetings we had on how to spend our share of ARPA funds, supporting small businesses in Detroit was something we heard from a lot of people, and so we included that in our plan.”

The program hasn’t announced new awardees since January 2020, after a one year and a half suspension, but workshops and other services continued throughout the pandemic. The applications for the 18th round opened Sept. 16, and Motor City Match received 377 applications for the four categories, with 87 applications for cash grants, Lucco said.

Here are some details about some of the grant recipients:

Joyola Mei Hair is owned by Joyell Lewis, who is set to open her hair salon in February at 1432 Michigan Ave. in Corktown. Her goal is to provide a holistic and eco-friendly hair salon experience, where she recycles hair care waste and upcycles refillable products.

Lewis received a $25,000 cash grant, which she plans to use to expand her staff. In the meantime, she will be the only stylist operating the space.

“This money is assisting me with my inventory to be able to sustain the business for the year while I build and find a staff,” said Lewis. “This money is going to allow me the capital to keep the business running while I’m able to hire up to six stylists.”

Mature, owned by brothers Darryl and Dekoven Humes,  sells casual and upscale attire for men. Mature, which started in 2017, has a philanthropic side, where it highlights and educates youths about style and excellence, and also hosts giveaways. Mature received a $30,000 cash grant.

Darryl Humes said: “This program does a great job of educating you on what’s out there, and opportunities, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to be able to take funds that can move your vision forward.”

The Humes brothers are planning to expand their business, with future projects coming to Twelve Oaks Mall and a new space in Detroit’s Fisher Building at 3011 West Grand Blvd., where they are currently located.

Detroit Dance Center is owned by Linda Hendricks, Jasmine Woods, and Dominique Hamlett. The center is set to open in spring 2022 at 831 Selden St. in Midtown. The owners are dancers themselves and will teach students ages 18 months and up about competitive dance and performing arts.

“The vision that we didn’t think was going to happen — or people weren’t going to participate because of the pandemic — is actually coming to fruition,” Hendricks said. “And our dream studio is going to come to fruition, so we’re really excited about this and having that opportunity to be able to open up something that the city desperately needs.”

City Council President Mary Sheffield commended each of the entrepreneurs who she said drive the economy by hiring locally, giving back. She said the City Council feels it is important to use city funding to support small businesses.

“The first thing that comes to mind is how difficult it is to become an entrepreneur,” Sheffield said.  “And oftentimes I hear about the barriers, the access to capital that our businesses struggle with. So I just commend the grit, the resilience, the perseverance that it takes for you all to succeed. I think that embodies in itself the Spirit of Detroit.”

Motor City Match started in 2015 to help entrepreneurs go from a business idea to an official launch. Over 80% of those businesses are minority-owned, 71% are female-owned and 64% are owned by residents of Detroit. The program has distributed $8.6 million in grants since its inception, 37 Motor City Match businesses opened in the last two years and 47 businesses are currently under construction. This has led to a reinvestment and total investment of $47 million, which Johnson said has remained in the community.

“We have been so blessed here in the city to have the kind of support from our mayor, our City Council, but most importantly, you and your spirit. The No. 1 assassin of a good idea is lack of capital,” Johnson said. “So what this does, it fights against that, and allows for the city to prosper because of your investment in us and your belief in your city.”