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(DETROIT, MI/ARLINGTON, VA) Capital Impact Partners, a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is celebrating 10 years of working with Detroit. The company also marked a milestone of $300 million in investments to expand economic, social and racial justice for underestimated communities through an inclusive growth strategy.
These investments include affordable, mixed-use housing projects, high-quality health care, education, and healthy food efforts as well as community development enterprises. Through these efforts Capital Impact has:
● Served more than 4,000 Detroiters—of whom 31% are living with low-to-moderate incomes
● Financed the creation of nearly 2,000 homes in Detroit to support increased density and affordability. Nearly 800 of these homes are maintained for individuals and families earning low incomes.
● Supported Detroit’s next generation of leaders by serving more than 2,000 students, of whom 1,695 identify as Black and 731 live in households earning low-to-moderate-incomes. Students supported have achieved a 100% graduation and post-high school attendance rate.
Capital Impact came to Detroit at the invitation of the Kresge Foundation as part of the Living Cities Integration Initiative. Capital Impact was the only national lender joining with a broad array of local partners, including the City of Detroit, Invest Detroit, Midtown Detroit Inc., Skillman Foundation and Vanguard Community Development Corporation. In the wake of the Great Recession and massive population decline, the goal was to drive reinvestment along the Woodward Corridor and generate benefits for area residents.
Now, with an office in the heart of Detroit and a local team of 11, Capital Impact continues to manage a broad array of financing efforts and programs that support inclusive growth and generational wealth building.
“In the beginning, Detroit chose us due to our national expertise in driving financing into disinvested neighborhoods. Over the past decade, we have learned as much from Detroit as we have contributed,” said Elllis Carr, President and CEO of Capital Impact and CDC Small Business Finance. “Working closely with Detroiters, local nonprofits, CDFIs, government agencies and investors has taught us what it truly means to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the community to create trust and uplift their solutions. We’ve learned what it means to invest in people and address systemic barriers to success.”
Capital Impact’s strategy evolved as a result of its experience in Detroit to create a holistic approach that involves financing affordable, mixed-use housing projects, providing capacity building to emerging Black developers and creating tailored loan products for those individuals and partnering with local organizations, supporting small business entrepreneurs and engaging with government agencies.
“Capital impact has been in a leadership position in the city for a while because of their very early success and their willingness to plant a flag here and be very committed to the work in the city in a very city-based context as opposed to being a delivery mechanism for sort of like national tools,” said Aaron Seybert, managing director of the Social Investment Practice at The Kresge Foundation.
Below are a few highlights of Capital Impact’s work over the last decade.
Mission-Driven Financing that Supports Inclusive Growth
The Auburn represented Capital Impact’s first catalytic, mixed-used development as part of the Living Cities Integration Initiative to encourage revitalization of the Woodward Corridor. This new construction 56,000 square-foot facility on the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street in the heart of Midtown Detroit is just one block from the (then proposed) M-1 rail line and just a few blocks from area anchor institutions including Wayne State University, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Medical Center.
It includes space for 11 businesses, such as the iconic Source Booksellers owned and operated by a Black female entrepreneur. Twenty percent of the residential space was reserved to ensure affordability for local residents. Project partners included Invest Detroit, Midtown Detroit Inc. and the Roxbury Group.
You can learn more about the Auburn project in this story and this video.
Argonaut Building | A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education
Built in 1928, the 12-story Art Deco-style building known as the Argonaut in Detroit’s New Center has had several lives, including General Motors’ Research Lab. After sitting dark for 10 years, Capital Impact provided New Markets Tax Credit financing in support of a larger $145 million renovation.
Rechristened as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, it now houses the College for Creative Studies, a leading institution for art and design education; University Prep Art & Design, a charter middle school and high school with design-focused curricula; and Shinola’s Detroit manufacturing operation. The transformation has been hailed as one of the most important downtown redevelopment projects in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.
You can learn more about the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in this story, and meet one of the Henry Ford Academy (now known as University Prep Art & Design) students in this profile.
As part of its then $100 million commitment to Detroit, JPMorgan Chase supported Capital Impact’s Detroit Neighborhoods Fund. The goal of this effort was to work across a variety of Detroit neighborhoods to return vacant properties to productive use, underwrite “missing middle” projects that fill gaps in the neighborhood fabric, increase access to neighborhood retail and provide housing for residents across the income spectrum.
The Coe represented a significant project for Capital Impact’s strategy to support smaller-scale projects embedded in neighborhoods. The once vacant lot was turned into a 12-unit, mixed-use development with both retail and affordable homes. Located directly between the Kercheval and Agnes Street commercial areas, the Coe supports a larger vision to revitalize the West Village into a mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable neighborhood.
The project was led by Woodburn Partners’ Clifford Brown, a Black developer with strong relationships throughout Detroit. The company has a mission of “Building Lives, Communities, and Wealth” in neighborhoods that have historically been overlooked for development. Brown also played a key role as a mentor in Capital Impact’s Equitable Development Initiative.
Invest Detroit, Broder & Sachse Real Estate and Sachse Construction also served as key partners.
“As part of JP Morgan Chase’s Detroit initiative, we committed $40 million in flexible, long-term capital, and 10 million in grants to two leading nonprofit CDFIs, one of those being Capital Impact Partners. Capital Impact was already a longstanding client and partner and had the local market presence and know-how, along with the critical community-based financing expertise and products to bring more flexible development financing for affordable housing and mixed use projects in Detroit like the Coe and other projects financing through their Detroit Neighborhoods Fund,” said Michael Rhodes, Vice President of Equity Capital Markets for JPMorgan Chase. “Capital Impact is also a mission-driven organization committed to equitable inclusive community development and social and economic justice.”
The Weinberg Green Houses® At Thome Rivertown Neighborhood
A first of its kind, The Weinberg Green Houses® At Thome Rivertown Neighborhood provides integrated care in a community setting. This innovative project created a national model by offering integrated service delivery including: Program for the All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE), expansion location for The Center for Senior Independence (CSI); affordable assisted living (AAL) apartments with home health services; affordable senior independent living apartments; and Green House® permanent supportive housing with 20 nursing care professionals.
Capital Impact’s financing helped to complete the final phase of the project, which serves a number of seniors living with low-incomes and those eligible for Medicare. This first-of-its-kind partnership between PACE and a Green House® operator expects to save approximately $130,000 a year over institutional nursing care.
Located along the Detroit River just east of Detroit, Thome Rivertown residents are able to live in a vibrant area close to shopping and restaurants.
This unique project included a variety of community partners, including Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan’s Detroit Neighborhood Fund, Detroit Housing Commission, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, City of Detroit, Wayne County, The Kresge Foundation and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
Direct financing of projects that support equitable access to critical social services is a key strategy of Capital Impact. Through its participation in the Michigan Good Food Fund, Capital Impact also invests directly in intermediary lenders who help amplify support for healthy food systems and enterprises across Michigan.
One key example of this strategy was an investment in Northern Initiatives to administer loans less than $250,000 to grocery stores, food growers and entrepreneurs. In addition, Northern Initiatives used the investment to increase its technical assistance capabilities. As part of Capital Impact’s support, Northern Initiatives has made a number of high impact loans to small businesses run by individuals of color, including Placita Olvera – Supermercado Mexico, Forty Acres and Abeshi Ghanian Culture.
The Michigan Good Food Fund core partners include Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Programs Driving Equity and Opportunity in Detroit
Equitable Development Initiative
In 2017, Capital Impact conducted an analysis that revealed much of their lending, while achieving positive outcomes, was not serving real estate developers of color. In a majority Black city, Capital Impact recognized the need to develop solutions to see the kind of developer level outcomes it had hoped to achieve.
With local guidance, the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) was created to provide emerging developers of color with training, mentorship and connections to secure financing. Since inception, the EDI program has trained 86 developers, many who have gone on to create their own organizations, build local projects and develop peer-to-peer networking circles.
JPMorgan Chase was an instrumental financing partner to help build the program.
“In addition to creating ‘developers,’ Capital Impact’s EDI program has created people who are more knowledgeable within the real estate space,” said Cliff Brown, a managing partner at Woodborn Partners and mentor in the EDI program. “The program has taken an underrepresented population and taught them how real estate development works, how capital works, how equity works and how wealth works. The EDI program has brought different voices to the table.”
“Capital Impact’s focus on helping us and up-skilling us Black and Brown developers, is actually paying off because you’re seeing a lot of the participants from that program being a part of these newer developments that are happening across the city,” said Edward Carrington, Founder of Flux City and EDI cohort graduate.
With feedback from EDI participants who still felt there was a barrier to accessing capital due to stringent underwriting standards, Capital Impact developed the Diversity in Development – Detroit Loan Fund. This initiative is designed to increase access to flexible and low-cost construction financing for real estate developers of color spearheading multifamily and mixed-use projects throughout Detroit. Nearly $100 million in applications were received with announcements forthcoming by Capital Impact on projects it intends to support.
Capital Impact Partners is one of the founding members of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a statewide loan fund that invests in good food enterprises working to increase access to healthy food and spark economic opportunity in places that need it most.
Since inception, this initiative has provided more than $17 million in loans and grants supporting over 300 Michigan-based food businesses that grow, process, distribute and sell healthy food. Fifty-three percent of the loans went to businesses led by people of color and 61% went to businesses led by women.
Some of the businesses the Michigan Good Food Fund have supported include Torti Taco, North Flint Food Market, Zilke Vegetable Farm and Country Style Marketplace. Key partners include the Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Capital Impact joined with Midtown Detroit, Inc. in to launch Stay Midtown, an initiative designed to address the housing supply gap for long-term residents living in Detroit’s rapidly redeveloping Midtown neighborhood. Due to the economic status amidst the growth of the city, these residents were at risk of displacement. The objective of Stay Midtown was to help Detroit residents maintain housing security during this period of high demand and limited supply, which was anticipated to lessen given increases in affordable housing options across all income levels.
The program provided up to $1,500 annually in rental assistance for three years to help reduce housing cost burdens and help reach targeted levels of housing affordability for that area of the city. An evaluation of the program found that it provided rental assistance to 152 households and supported an additional four households with relocation services. Stay Midtown helped participants reduce their average housing costs from 42% of household income to 37%. Twenty-two percent were able to reduce their housing costs to 30% of their household income.
Restore North End
With support from Capital Impact and The Kresge Foundation, Vanguard Community Development Corporation and Michigan Lending Solutions launched the Restore North End: Owner-Occupied Home Rehab Program. The goal was to offer financial assistance to homeowners in Detroit’s North End neighborhood to repair and rehabilitate their residences with the main purpose of eliminating blighted conditions by increasing the attractiveness, marketability and viability of the neighborhood’s most stable residential blocks.
A Powerful New Enterprise for Communities and Small Business
Most recently, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance, the nation’s leading mission-based small business lender to innovate how capital and investments flow into historically disinvested communities. This new enterprise expands Capital Impact’s traditional offerings to include support for small businesses to develop and implement high-touch, scalable solutions that support economic empowerment and equitable wealth creation. Detroit is one of three place-based pilot locations where the organization will actively engage with community members to understand regional barriers to opportunity and work together to create tools, programs, and services that are strategically customized to address those high-priority issues.
To learn more about Capital Impact Partners, please visit www.capitalimpact.org.
About Capital Impact Partners
Through capital and commitment, Capital Impact Partners helps people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. We work to champion key issues of equity and social and economic justice by deploying mission-driven financing, capacity-building programs, and impact investing opportunities.
A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, Capital Impact has disbursed more than $2.5 billion since 1982. In 2020, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance under one leadership team and national strategy to reinvent traditional and mainstream financial systems. Our goal is to ensure these systems equitably serve communities of color to drive community-led solutions that support economic mobility and wealth creation.
Our leadership in delivering financial and social impact has resulted in Capital Impact being rated by S&P Global and recognized by Aeris for our performance. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Capital Impact Partners operates nationally, with local offices in Austin, TX, Detroit, MI, New York, NY, and Oakland, CA.
Learn more at www.capitalimpact.org and www.investedincommunities.org.
DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel attorney and shareholder Michael C. Decker has been named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” Class of 2021. Honorees will be recognized at a luncheon and awards celebration on December 2, 2021, at the Detroit Marriott Troy. “Leaders in the Law” are honored, among other things, for:
• Significant accomplishments or achievements in law practice;
• Outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Michigan;
• Leadership in improving the justice system in Michigan;
• Seeking improvements to the legal community and their communities at large; and,
• Setting an example for other lawyers.
Decker practices in Butzel’s Detroit and Lansing offices.
He concentrates his practice in the areas of construction and construction litigation and business and business litigation.
He represents and counsels construction companies and contractors on all aspects of both public and private projects, from inception to completion of those projects. Decker has substantial experience drafting and negotiating contracts, subcontracts, and other agreements and prosecuting and defending performance, payment, and delay related claims on behalf of construction companies and contractors, as well as owners and sureties. He also has substantial experience prosecuting and defending claims concerning the Miss Dig Act and violations of the Miss Dig Act on behalf of construction companies and contractors. Decker has prosecuted and defended such claims before state and federal courts, state and public agencies, and arbitration and mediation panels.
Moreover, Decker has substantial experience assisting owners and contractors with residential construction related matters. Specifically, he has assisted owners and contractors drafting and negotiating residential construction contracts, subcontracts, and other agreements and resolving performance and payment related issues, as well as prosecuting and defending claims arising from such issues.
Decker represents and counsels businesses and business professionals with day-to-day business related issues. Such day-to-day business related issues routinely find him assisting with contract disputes and bankruptcy, corporate, collection, labor and employment, real estate, and trade secret related issues.
Decker has been recognized as a Rising Star in Business Litigation in 2013-2021 by Super Lawyers. Rising Stars are attorneys who are 40 years old or younger or who have practiced for 10 years or less. Notably, only 2.5 percent of Michigan lawyers are named to the list of Super Lawyers each year. Decker also has been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Construction Litigation in 2017-2021 by DBusiness.
He earned a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School in 2011 and a Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University in 2007. During law school, he served as an associate editor of The Journal of Law in Society.
Since 2015, he has been a member of the Central Michigan University Alumni Association Board of Directors. He represents the interests of alumni by providing meaningful opportunities and connections for maintaining involvement with the University.
Decker is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the State Bar of Florida. He is admitted to practice in various courts in both Michigan and Florida.
Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long
DETROIT, Mich., – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Thomas G. McNeill (Member, Detroit) has been named a “2021 Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Tom brings four decades of battle-tested experience and skill to representing private and public companies, and their owners, officers and directors, in state and federal trial courts in Michigan. In addition to all manner of contract and tort based business to business litigation, Tom specializes in complex financial litigation, including in the areas of securities (particularly class action defense), the purchase/sale of the business, private equity ownership and purchase/sale, and financial statement-based litigation. He is recognized for excellence in the niche fields of automotive supply litigation, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements, and trade secret theft. Tom is delighted to join the Michigan Lawyers Weekly “2021 Leaders in the Law,” and he is grateful for the highest peer-based recognitions conferred by Chambers USA (“Band 1”); The Legal 500 United States; Best Lawyers in America (in five litigation disciplines), Benchmark Litigation (“Litigation Star”); and Michigan Super Lawyers (“Top 100”). Tom is the Vice Chair of the State Appellate Defender Commission (nominated by the Supreme Court, appointed by three Governors), a Fellow of the State Bar of Michigan, a past President of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, a member of the International Society of Barristers, and co-author/editor of Michigan Business Torts, a leading ICLE publication, now in its 2020 edition.
Each year, Michigan Lawyers Weekly selects 25 lawyers to honor as “Leaders in the Law,” those who exemplify the noble tradition of the legal profession, are passionate and active on behalf of clients and the community, have a record of success in the legal profession, and have a record of achievements that display a strength of character and ability to be a leader in the Michigan legal community. The “2021 Leaders in the Law” will be honored at an annual luncheon and awards ceremony on December 2, 2021 at the Troy Marriott.
About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. The firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.
Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.
Plunkett Cooney partner Charles W. Browning was recently selected a 2021 “Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly (MiLW), an industry publication serving the state’s legal community. This is the second time that Browning has been selected for this honor, having also been named a Leader in the Law in 2015.
Browning and the other class of 2021 honorees were selected for, among other things, their significant contributions to the practice of law in Michigan, their expertise and leadership, as well as for setting an example for other lawyers.
The annual Leaders in the Law awards ceremony will be held on Dec. 2 at the Detroit Marriott Troy. The “Lawyer of the Year,” as selected by a vote of the class, will be announced during the event. All of the 2021 honorees will be profiled in a special section of the Dec. 6 issue of MiLW.
Browning is a partner and Co-leader of Plunkett Cooney’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group, overseeing the firm’s national practice as coverage counsel for numerous major insurance companies.
In addition to this honor, Browning has been designated annually for several years as a Michigan Super Lawyer and has been annually recognized by The Best Lawyers in America since 2010. He is a Fellow in the American College of Coverage Counsel. Browning is also the 2016 recipient of Defense Research Institute’s (DRI) prestigious Albert H. Parnell Award, which is presented annually to honor members who created a particularly dynamic educational program.
Browning is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel (Casualty Insurance Committee (Chair 2006-2008) and Reinsurance and Excess and Surplus Lines Committee); Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Insurance Committee) and the American Bar Association (Litigation Section and Torts and Insurance Practice Section). He is also a member of the Board of Editors of the Defense Counsel Journal.
Browning has been admitted to practice law in the state courts of Michigan and several federal courts, and he has been admitted to practice law pro hac vice in more than 34 states. He received his law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University.
Plunkett Cooney is recognized as one of the nation’s leading law firms for insurance coverage litigation. They routinely handle cutting-edge coverage litigation, including such issues as COVID-19 business interruption and emerging environmental contaminants like polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS).
Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in seven Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms.
For more information about Charles Browning’s selection as a 2021 Leader in the Law, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or via email at email@example.com.
Target intends to open a small-format store in Midtown Detroit as part of a planned new apartments development, the developer said Monday.
The 32,000-square-foot Target store would be situated at the southeast corner of Mack and Woodward avenues, near the Whole Foods. Target has been eyeing this general location since at least 2016.
Monday’s announcement did not specify a construction start or opening date for the Target.
The store and apartments would be built on what is now an empty lot, next to a newly constructed parking deck. The overall project is still subject to approvals of its site design as well as various development subsidies.
The Midtown store would be significantly smaller than typical Target stores, which average about 130,000 square feet, according to the retailer.
“I would like to thank Target for choosing Detroit, Midtown and our next new mixed-use apartment hotel community in the city,” said Jonathan Holtzman, CEO of City Club Apartments, which is developing the planned 350-unit apartment complex, known as City Club Apartments Midtown.
The planned store represents a return to Detroit for Target, which in 2003 closed its location at 8500 E. Eight Mile Road.
A Target representative at the time cited the store’s weak financial performance and said it was losing customers to Target stores at Northland Center and Eastland Center malls. Since then, the Northland and Eastland Targets have closed.
Earlier this month, Meijer opened one of its new small-format stores, a 42,000-square-foot Rivertown Market, about a mile east of downtown at 1475 E. Jefferson.
The Target would be part of the City Club Apartments Midtown development, which envisions 350 upscale apartments within a new 16-story residential tower and a six-story midrise building. Twenty percent of the units were be reserved at lower rents for tenants with below-median incomes.
Holtzman said earlier this year that a large retailer wanted to anchor the planned development, although he wasn’t at the time authorized to name Target.
Monday’s announcement does not give anticipated groundbreaking or opening dates. Holtzman does say that “we continue to be in an environment with significant labor and material shortages.”
“Midtown Detroit Inc. is thrilled that Target is coming to Midtown,” Midtown Detroit President Sue Mosey said in a statement. “This store will offer grocery, general merchandise and other amenities for our growing downtown/Midtown population of over 25,000 residents and 30,000 college students. We anticipate residents from other Detroit neighborhoods will also find this store a convenient shopping option.”
Throughout the pandemic, Amanda Scully has been taking classes while working at Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Somerset Collection in Troy. The store closed when COVID-19 hit, but she received unemployment benefits and then went back to work when the store reopened in July of last year.
When Scully, 24, was called back, she worked a similar number of hours compared with before the pandemic, but the job was noticeably different.
“A lot of people are angry with us because we don’t have certain things in the store because of supply chain” issues, she said.
One day, she opened a newsletter from Oakland County that advertised a free certified logistics technician training program. The eight-week program, a partnership between Oakland County Michigan Works!, Oakland Community College and PepsiCo, promised jobs coming out of the program starting at $15-$21 per hour, with opportunities for advancement.
Scully jumped at the opportunity.
“I wanted more stability and some jobs are more in demand than others,” she said. Her current job also doesn’t offer benefits, and that’s something she’d like in her next job.
Finding something better
When she graduates from the program and starts working in a new industry, Scully will join more than a third of Michigan residents ages 18 to 29 who were employed prior to the pandemic and changed jobs over the last year and a half, a recent poll by the Detroit Regional Chamber found.
The poll, conduced by Glengariff Group Inc., illustrates just one of the many ways Michigan’s labor market has changed during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has caused people to rethink the choices that they’re making,” said Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.
“A lot of older Americans are choosing to maybe retire earlier,” she said. “And because of the labor shortage, people, particularly who were in low wage jobs previously, have a lot more options.”
The same Detroit Regional Chamber poll found there was a 5.9% drop in the labor force participation rate — a measure of people working or actively looking for work — for Michigan residents ages 50-64 throughout the course of the pandemic, and a 5.4% drop for those 65 and older. That’s the sharpest decline compared with other ages.
Jennifer Llewellyn, the director of Oakland County Michigan Works!, said even after working in workforce development for 23 years, she has never seen a labor market like this.
“It’s a perfect storm,” Llewellyn said. She attributes it to four trends:
1. Women leaving the workforce. Primarily due to K-12 schools going online last year and continuing child care issues, 200,000 women have left the workforce in Michigan, she said, citing a report from the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information. “Quite frankly, we just we can’t afford to lose that many women in the workforce,” Llewellyn said.
2. Lack of engagement on the part of employers. Women are just one of several groups that need to be reengaged, she said. Veterans, people with disabilities, retirees and individuals doing contract work or working in the gig economy are just a few in this group. “Are employers posting jobs in a way that says these are all the benefits and opportunities that we have available?” she asked. “Are they outlining career pathways and opportunities for advancement even when they’re recruiting new employees?”
3. Fear of getting sick. COVID-19 also is a reason Michigan residents may be out of the labor force, especially if they have preexisting health conditions or are caring for a child that can’t be vaccinated or a parent at home. Llewellyn said this could especially affect people at retirement age, who may have realized with the threat of themore easily transmissible delta variant that it’s not worth risking their own or their family’s health to continue working.
4. Working conditions. Finally, Llewellyn is seeing that workers want better jobs and more flexibility. “They want to work in a better environment, they’re looking for higher wages, they’re looking for more work flexibility, the opportunity to work from home or work in a hybrid model,” she said.
Changing personal priorities
That idea of looking for better work is affecting both younger adults, like Scully, and executives and older workers.
Peter Bridges, senior managing director at the Townsend Search Group in Birmingham, an executive search firm, said the pandemic has been an opportunity for people to self-reflect.
“Executives are no exception,” Bridges said. He said in 2020, the firm saw a “surprising” number of people choose to retire.
“We also saw people take roles that maybe were a bit more modest relative to their prior career trajectory,” Bridges said.
Gina McKague, owner and founder of McKague Financial in Livonia, is also seeing clients who are choosing to retire for personal reasons, such as not wanting to be stuck on Zoom calls all day working remotely, and have enough money to retire.
One of her clients, a 65-year-old woman in metro Detroit whosaid she wanted to remain anonymous because she didn’t want to disparage her former employer, retired from being a nurse manager in August after she was left with few resources in the pandemic.
“I liked my job but it became harder to do because I didn’t have nurses,” she said, citing examples of nurses quitting, nursing schools not graduating as many students compared with prior years and struggling to compete with staffing agencies who hire travel nurses and can pay as much as $100 per hour.
“I thought, ‘You know, you have worked for 43 years and it is time to hand over the baton,’ ” she said.
She said she probably would have worked for longer if conditions were different, but she said her house and other debts are paid off, and she and her husband have saved for retirement.
Corbin said that’s a missed opportunity to keep a qualifiedperson who isn’tquite ready for retirement yet, but who may be ready for a transition, in the labor force.
Forced to leave the job
But McKague said in many cases in the pandemic, she has had clients say they were forced into retirement because their role was eliminated, the company was going out of business, they feared getting COVID-19 at work, or they were unwilling to get a company-mandated vaccine.
“They are having a hard time getting another job because (employers) don’t want to put money into training them and don’t want to pay wages that they were earning,” McKague said.
The Dearborn Symphony Orchestra presents “Mini Masterpieces from Around the World” on November 19, 8 p.m. at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. Travel to Italy, France, and even Romania with orchestral masterpieces that include Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Petite Suite, Bartok’s lively Romanian Folk Dances and Rossini’s Cinderella Overture. For tickets, go to http://dearborntheater.com/events/10004459-dearborn-symphony-mini-masterpieces-from-around-the-world
Former NBA All-Star Chris Webber broke ground on a $50 million cannabis operations and training center in Detroit’s trendy Corktown neighborhood.
Players Only, a Black-owned business that Webber co-founded with entrepreneur Lavetta Willis, will focus on cannabis cultivation and retail, brand partnerships and content development.
Cookies U, part of California-based Cookies’ social impact program, will provide training and job placement services that focus on minorities and underrepresented communities, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Detroit marijuana facility marks the first major announcement from Webber and Willis since February, when they and JW Asset Management founder Jason Wild launched a $100 million private equity cannabis fund to invest in underrepresented cannabis entrepreneurs.
The 180,000-square-foot facility will feature 60,000 square feet of cultivation space, an 8,000-square-foot dispensary and a private cannabis consumption lounge.
Webber announced an exclusive product distribution partnership with Michigan-based Gage Growth, which is in the process of being acquired by New York-based TerrAscend. Wild is TerrAscend’s executive chair.
“We will create, foster and provide a cannabis ecosystem that celebrates diversity, creates jobs, and benefits this community – focusing intensely on those who are being left behind,” Webber, a Detroit native, said in a news release.
“As social equity programs struggle in many states, we are here to support legacy operators who created the foundation for this industry so that they are included in future iterations of it while we wait on the politics to catch up.”
Start building a relationship with financial institutions and lenders before you need capital. According to Jones, “waiting until you need capital to build that relationship is too late.”
Find a financial institution with a good track record of working with good borrowers and businesses, who will take time getting to know your small business and provide advice on what is best for your business—not their company.
Businesses of all sizes sought out capital during the pandemic, but Black and Latinx businesses struggled to gain access. This led to non-traditional lending sources stepping up to assist those businesses.
Small business owners should talk to lenders and let them know what they need. According to Dunn, “As small business owners, you are the truth in this story. It’s about making sure you have the resources that you need.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 20, the Detroit Regional Chamber and Pure Michigan Business Connect partnered to host the first webinar in the Chamber’s 2021-2022 Black- and Diverse-Owned Business Series – How to Access Small Business Funding.
The webinar brought together a panel of financial and business experts from the Detroit region to discuss traditional and non-traditional funding opportunities and resources that small businesses can take advantage of to expand. The panel was moderated by Paul Jones, business support director at Invest Detroit, and comprised:
Aileen Cohen, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC)
James Dunn, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, First Independence Bank
Shannon Smith, Vice President, Siebert Williams Shank Capital Management
Cohen participated in the panel from the perspective of the state of Michigan, which helps all businesses; Dunn, small, startup businesses; Sanders, minority businesses; and Smith, Black and Latinx businesses.
When to Start Building a Relationship with Lenders
Dunn shared that small business owners should start building a relationship with financial institutions before seeking capital. While a pre-existing relationship does not guarantee loan approval, it helps lenders get to know the business they are working with and provides referrals to other resources that could be useful for growth.
“And then also, it gives the banker an opportunity to know who you are, what your business plans are, and how you’re preparing for them, what your business plans look like, and sometimes, they can direct you to into what you need to do to put your business on the ground and get it going,” Dunn said.
Dunn also shared that small business owners should consider working with smaller banks like First Independence Bank before going to larger banks for capital.
“One of the benefits of working with a smaller banking institution is that they’re a little more focused on smaller loan relationships, and it’s kind of their core business. They’re going to pay more attention,” Dunn said.
According to the Small Business Administration, 71% of small business applications submitted to smaller banks were approved, whereas the approval rate at larger banks was 58%.
Wraparound Services for Small Businesses
Sanders discussed different services that small business owners should proactively look for from their bank or lending relationships. The main thing he suggests is looking for advice.
“When you look at Grow Michigan II, one of the taglines we promote is bridging the economic gap for all with capital and advice. The thing I like to highlight is the ‘all’ and the ‘advice,’” Sanders said. “Capital is one factor, but what they [small business owners] lack sometimes is advice, and sometimes that’s more important than the capital,” Sanders said.
Sanders believes banks, capital sources, and non-traditional lending sources like Grow Michigan II should build a relationship with borrowers because it gives them insight into the businesses they are looking to fund, including why they started their business, how they are running their business, and what their short-term and long-term goals are. Having this knowledge helps them tailor advice to best help businesses grow.
According to Dunn, financial institutions that do not provide advice and will lend based on a credit score could be a sign of predatory lending. Predatory lending is when a lender offers a loan with few barriers except for a high interest rate, making it easy money.
“People will create a lending model based on a FICO score and earnings, and they’ll throw money at you. It’s not a high decision type of lending. What’s missing sometimes with that type of lending is there’s no consulting role. They’re not helping you as a businessperson to guide you into those questions you should be asking,” Dunn said. “You need a consulting role to help small businesses succeed.”
In addition to finding a lender that provides advice, Sanders also stressed that borrowers should not start a relationship with lenders with a “beggar mentality.”
“Know that we are going in with a great business plan, [and] that they are looking for us as much as we are looking for them,” Sanders said. “You want to make sure you work with an institution that has developed a track record. You want to do your research and know that you have options. There’s a lot of liquidity out there, and banks, financial institutions, and mezzanine debt funds like ours are looking for good borrowers,” Sanders said.
The New Lending Environment
Smith shared what financial lending looks like today, amid COVID-19 and new FinTech developments, compared to what it looked like pre-COVID-19.
“A lot of innovation happened,” Smith said, “Specifically, I think we saw a unique time where no matter the company, who ran the company, the revenue size—everyone was looking for capital to survive the shutdown.”
Even though almost every business felt the pinch of the pandemic, Smith said that minority-owned businesses faced a unique but unsurprising barrier—one that was not caused by the pandemic but was highlighted by it. They faced the challenge of accessing capital, especially regarding receiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding.
“We saw the emergence of what I’ve been labeling as the ‘robot banker.’ The silver-lining will show what automation could do to benefit minority-owned businesses by removing some human involvement that could perhaps explain some of the disparities we’re seeing in the businesses of the same types, similar revenues, but different colored founders,” Smith said.
Another thing that came out of the pandemic was that foundations switched their funding criteria and made exceptions to get businesses through the pandemic outside of their objectives and pillars.
“Before, during, and after COVID, we started to see intentional funds like ours, a non-traditional lender, the Clear Michigan Impact Fund, that said, ‘You know what, we believe the U.S., below-the-middle market businesses, especially Black- and Latinx-owned businesses, represent a large, attractive lending opportunity,’ so we stepped in,” Smith said. “Especially, if you look at the gap in GDP in a region like Michigan, where we could’ve been $29 billion stronger in the 2014 study—a 13% increase in GDP—if the racial gap in income had been closed.”
Advocacy for Small Businesses
Cohen shared that there is ample funding coming into the state of Michigan at the local, state, and federal levels. However, without the assistance of technical service providers and lenders who share what is needed from businesses, organizations like MEDC will not know how to structure these funds to make the most significant impact.
“We want to hear from the ground level what’s needed out there. That’s where the activity comes in. We recognize as a state that we are not on the ground. We’re one step removed from what the market conditions are right now, what borrowers and lenders actually want,” Cohen said. “We have been constantly reaching out to each and every one of those groups to figure out what is needed and how.”
Ultimately, Cohen shared that the best advocacy comes from making sure small business owners stay in touch with local service providers.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to utilize this funding to make an impact…to make sure we are going to use this money in the most impactful way we can,” Cohen said.
Overcoming Barriers to Access Capital: Action Items
According to Dunn, the first thing small business owners should prepare before asking for financial assistance is a strong business plan.
“When the lender is looking at ‘Can I support this business?’, but most importantly ‘How carefully considered is the business, how well-planned out, what’s the likelihood of success?’, I would suggest that with a very solid business plan, the likelihood that your business will be successful, it goes up tremendously as compared with ‘I have an idea. I’m just going to launch this,’” Dunn said.
The business plan can include various details, such as the past, present, and future of a business, what it has made to date, what the projections are, and assumptions to those projections. According to Smith, the latter is one of the most essential details. He believes being able to walk lenders and investors through the assumptions is key. It will show them that you are being considerate about making sure you’re in a place to grow your business and have people around you who can help you build your business.
Another important thing to consider when seeking capital is knowing what you are asking for and why.
“Are you able to explain how you will spend every single penny? Even if those assumptions aren’t all the way true, it just shows that you have an understanding of how you’re going to invest capital into your business to grow to your next step,” Smith said.
Sanders also recommends business owners remember to share their personal stories and personal credit when developing a relationship with lenders and not only to highlight their business accomplishments.
“Your personal story, your personal credit, all the things—when you’re a small business, until you get to a certain level of scale, we are looking at you as an individual, separate and distinct to some extent from the business,” Sanders said. “We are looking at who the jockey is riding the horse, with the horse being the business.”
This step includes making sure you are creditworthy by keeping a score in the high 700s or low 800s. It also means making sure when someone Googles you or your business that nothing derogatory comes up.
“Let’s not forget how important the personal aspect of you tied to the business is, as well,” Sanders said.
According to Cohen, one of the last things small business owners can do to find capital is take advantage of existing resources available with organizations like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They will be able to provide insight into grant programs and resources across the state of Michigan.
Overcoming Systemic Challenges for Minority-Owned Businesses
“We are seeing this shift in sentiment from corporate America and just institutions around the importance of racial equity, especially as it relates to the credit market,” Smith said.
Organizations like the Clear Michigan Fund, Grow Michigan Fund II, First Independence Bank, Invest Detroit, and MEDC provide opportunities for Black- and diverse-owned businesses to overcome institutional barriers to accessing capital.
At the Clear Michigan Fund, Smith shared they focus on the “network effect,” which is when a small Black or Latinx business comes to them with a plan on how they want to grow, and the Fund identifies companies they are trying to build a bridge to and helps them connect.
“A lot of large corporates are also making these intentional efforts to diversify their supply chains. Their procurement departments are really taking it serious. There’s this relationship that’s starting to build on both sides for lenders, for companies, as well as those large corporates looking to give opportunities to more minority-owned businesses,” Smith said. “And it’s not a charitable act. It’s an act of just finding these businesses and giving them the contracts. These businesses have been doing the work, continue to do the work, and they just need the capital and that bridge to be built to then show that they can do the work.”
Grow Michigan II and First Independent Bank are also working to provide capital to more minority-owned businesses through a partnership. To close the equity gap, Sanders shared how Grow Michigan II put forth $40-$50 million, with at least 50% being targeted to minority-owned businesses.
Jones also shared how Invest Detroit provides capital to businesses located in Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Detroit, or cities with a large minority population. In addition, Cohen shared there is a significant focus on providing federal funds to socio- and economically disadvantaged businesses in Michigan.
“We’re in a really unprecedented time where we have institutions, corporates, and a lot of players that are starting to shift their focus and understand the value of closing this equity gap,” Smith said. “As a minority-owned business across the country, especially in this region, it’s really a great time to tap into those resources, find those capital sources, but also come ready with your plan to be funded, because there’s a lot of investors and a lot of funds that are looking to invest in some great businesses.”
View the How to Access Small Business Funding webinarhere.
Audience Q&A Responses
The panelist also answered several questions from the audience after their presentation. See some highlights below.
Where can I find resources and contacts discussed?
In addition to the “ask” what are the typical repayment terms? Terms are flexible as we (CVIF) work with our portfolio companies. For example, we’ve offered six months interest-only terms to start and then principal/interest payments for the remainder of the term.
Are there any grants as opposed to loans? Check with your local EDO (Economic Development Organization) or Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for further information on grants.
Many small businesses were effectively left out of the many programs available because at the local level, the organizations responsible for allocating funds made decisions based on their own organizational biases. As a result, a LOT of small businesses, solo-preneurs, and seeds of potential were left out and many went under. What do you envision doing differently going forward so we don’t continue to see the sparks of great potential snuffed out by rigid rules and metrics that perhaps unintentionally but systemically discriminate and crush innovative visionaries? With new programming, MEDC will be making intentional efforts to focus a large share of its programming on micro-businesses (less than nine employees) and socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Prior to programming being developed, we are still awaiting guidance from the federal government on how the funding is to be used.
Are there any capital resources that support low credit score individuals, lack of collateral, lack of 10% down, or that can’t support high interest rates? Mainly these are less than 10 employees, needing an average of $25,000. These are underserved individuals mainly. Invest Detroit is a potential option since it has removed credit scores from its review. Opportunity Resource Fund is also a great resource.
Also left out grant and financing programs are business service companies in Michigan with over $10M in revenues and 250 employees. What is available for such companies?
What does CDFI stand for? Community Development Financial Institution. They are a community-based lender that generally has more lenient credit standards while offering more technical assistance than a traditional lender.
Does Grow Michigan 2 fund or loan to math tutoring businesses? Yes; Grow 2 would consider providing a loan to a math tutoring business.
How does a micro business that also is community driven access these capital streams? Visit ProsperUS Detroit.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the sponsor of the event series.