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Ford’s Michigan Central Commits $500,000 To Support Local Businesses with Training, Grants, Loans

Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Central Innovation District is committing $500,000 to support Detroit entrepreneurs.

As many as 25 local businesses will be selected for the Advancing Community Businesses program, the first in a new series of community development programs tied to the company’s renovation of the Michigan Central Station. The money will go toward grants, loans, education, training and mentorship, according to a news release.

The program is the first in a series of Michigan Central’s community development programs to support housing development, education and the local workforce. In addition to the $500,000 pledged, the organization will offer loans and grants of up to $20,000 to businesses.

The program’s business academy will provide courses in business development and online business education, including information on e-commerce platforms, digital marketing and social media.

“It was important for us to take a holistic approach to address business growth not only in dollars, but also education,” Michigan Central community impact lead Clarinda Barnett-Harrison said in the release. “With Michigan Central being an open platform for partnership, we wanted to include nonprofit partners who could help us bring meaningful community engagement through this program. We think it could bring big changes such as new employment, additional locations and expanded footprints, even new or enhanced e-commerce operations for participating businesses. This is meant to offer the selected businesses a dedicated growth resource in the neighborhoods they have helped make a landmark.”

Build Institute and ProsperUs Detroit will administer the program, which launches this month and will continue through the year.

ProsperUs, established in 2012, has helped more than 1,300 businesses, including food-based and retail businesses, daycares, salons and landscapers. Businesses of any type and industry are welcome to apply for the program.

“We’ve been working in Southwest Detroit since our inception and we’ve built wonderful relationships and seen our clients launch and grow businesses that make the community a better place,” Chanell Scott Contreras, executive director of ProsperUs Detroit, said in the release. “To do this work in partnership with Michigan Central is very exciting because it means there will be additional resources for the community that will continue to strengthen and make the surrounding neighborhoods even more vibrant with businesses that provide the goods and services that increase the quality of life for all of us.”

To apply for the Advancing Community Businesses program, businesses must be:

  • Located in or near the Michigan Central impact area
  • Have one to 10 years of operating history
  • Two or more employees
  • Annual revenue of less than $500,000

The application deadline is June 30, and winners will be announced later this summer. The application is available online.

Ford is working to restore Michigan Central Station in a massive renovation project. As of January, the automaker said it expects the renovation to cost $950 million. The train station tower will include 10 floors of office space for Ford employees and partners, a luxury hotel, restaurants, a public gathering space, coffee shop, food court, and event space. The project is expected to conclude by mid-2023.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $7.5 million grant to Michigan Central earlier this year to support the creation of 2,500 non-Ford jobs in the Corktown campus in midst of development. It will support the launch of a transportation innovation zone, workforce training and efforts to attract global talent for Michigan Central.

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