Detroit announces latest group to share in $500K in Motor City Match grants

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp.  and Mayor Mike Duggan on Wednesday announced the city's latest round of Motor City Match winners since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the winners were 13 business owners awarded cash grants totaling $500,000.  

“Motor City Match continues to help Detroit entrepreneurs strike new pathways toward success and economic mobility,” Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of the DEGC, said in a statement Wednesday. “Considering the challenges presented by COVID-19, it is more critical than ever that we support a strong small business community and thriving neighborhood corridors that can serve the needs of all Detroiters.”

The Motor City Match program, in its 18th round, recognized 63 winners who will receive support including cash grants or design, development or planning assistance.

The latest grant awards come as Duggan said he’d like to expand on the program, which typically awards up to $500,000 each quarter. Duggan said his administration plans to submit a proposal to Detroit City Council soon seeking approval to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase the grant funding.

“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 it in our plan," he said. 

The program has faced some scrutiny, including a temporary suspension in the use of federal funds for the program in 2019 amid concerns over record-keeping and whether the funding was used appropriately. 

Last January, an 18-month investigation by Detroit's Office of Inspector General showed excessive spending, weak controls for issuing payments, a lack of oversight and that nearly 77% of the businesses in the program had failed. 

The mayor's administration later countered that the inspector general's findings were "not in step with reality."

In December, The Detroit News reported the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's latest monitoring of the program found conflict of interest concerns and issues with documentation and oversight.

Officials with the city's Housing Revitalization and Development Department have said the city already resolved some of the issues and would present plans to address the rest to HUD by the end of January.

During the pandemic, Motor City Match has continued to offer workshops and business services. During the past two years, 37 of the program's businesses opened their doors, said officials, adding that 10 businesses are expected to open before summer.

“Since 2020, the program has refocused its operations to meet the changing needs of businesses in a post-pandemic environment,” officials said in a statement. “This includes a focus on loan readiness, an emphasis on getting new businesses transactional as quickly as possible and shortening the application and evaluation timeline.”

Since its start in 2015, the program has awarded $8.6 million in grants and served 1,481 businesses. Officials said 130 businesses have opened and 47 others are under construction. Of the awardees, 87% are minority-owned, 79 percent are women-owned and 81% are owned by Detroit residents.

Cash grant winners announced Wednesday are: 

Joyola Mei Hair, 1432 Michigan Ave. $25,000

Fork in Nigeria, 4219 Woodward Ave. $30,000

Mature, 3011 West Grand Blvd. $30,000

Detroit Dance Center, 831 Selden St. $35,000

Supreme Cafe, 1811 Wyoming Ave. $35,000

RAMP Detroit, 4849 Canyon St. $35,000

The Sandwich Lobby, 10630 Morang Ave. $35,000

Dulce Café and Bakery, 17233 Mack Ave. $40,000

Welcome Home Yoga & Wellness, 6375 W. Seven Mile Rd. $40,000

Hooked on Books Child Care, 24532 W. McNichols Rd.  $40,000

Lily’s & Elise, 19037 Livernois Ave. $45,000

Breadless Corporation, 2761 E. Jefferson Ave.$50,000

Detroit Soul, 14300 E. Jefferson Ave. $60,000