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Detroit — Michigan’s small business and entrepreneur community grew stronger Wednesday with the distribution of 70 micro-grants.

The announcement of the grant awards was made inside the new Kid Rock/Shed #5 at Detroit's historic Eastern Market. The grants, totaling $175,500, will be used for new equipment or other items intended to help small businesses expand or become more efficient.

The grants are being provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as well as Citizens Bank, as part of the bank's Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities initiative.

“The micro-grants are a great thing to provide,” said Rick Hampson, president of Citizens Bank. “We know the challenges small business face when they first start out. The grants will be used to specialized tools, supplies and equipment, which will provide goods and services for Detroit residents while boosting the economy.”

One of those receiving a grant was Cynthia Davis, creator of Sha La Cynt’s LLC, a personal chef and catering company. Through the funds provided by the grant, Davis is expanding into the gourmet popcorn business.

“I’m so thankful to be here and for people to believe in our business,” a smiling Davis said. “I started out by making healthy, tasty popcorn for my son’s lunch. People said they liked it so much they wanted it available in local stores.

“By purchasing a second hot air popper, we’ll be able to expand our market.”

Another award recipient was Dawn DeMuyt, founder of Labrosse Farm, which has been growing and selling organic heirloom vegetables since 2006 as part of the “Grown in Detroit” movement at Eastern Market.

“Our businesses has been a struggle with many challenges,” DeMuyt said. “Up until 2014, we were doing this on a part-time, afterwork basis, but then we decided to grow this business and promote locally grown healthy foods in our neighborhoods.”

DeMuyt said the award will allow her business to rent space in the new kitchen facilities at Shed #5 to produce organic ketchup and jams.

“These micro-grants mean so much to small entrepreneurs,” she said. “Believing in us allows our small businesses to grow in the city.”

The grants will go to a wide variety of small businesses in the metro area and other parts of the state, including: 3Dogs1Cat4Detroit, which produces trendy and stylish merchandise to pets and their owners; Bay Port Fish Co. (in Bay Port), which will receive fish display cases; Detroit’s Beau Bien Fine Foods, which will use the money to purchase copper jam pots and he Detroit Mushroom Factory, which will use the award money to purchase a pressure sterilizer and steam generator.

More are: Herbs Soul Patch, grant to be used to purchase land in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park to grow vegetables; Rochester’s Holy Cannolis will purchase an electric milling machine and Brighton’s Pure Harvest Pesto will purchase a commercial refrigerator.

According to Citizens Bank, 90 small businesses applied for the 70 available micro-grants.

TGreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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