Knight grant supports neighborhood ‘buy local’ program

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News
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A program that advances small business growth in northwest Detroit’s District 1 by offering residents “buy local” incentives and providing business owners with resources will expand with $100,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The funding, announced Monday by Knight, will help create new initiatives that encourage more people to buy from local businesses and obtain feedback from residents on the type of goods and services they would like to see in the neighborhood.

To help businesses discover best practices, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. will research other buy-local programs. The program will also integrate data on what attracts customer support and builds sustainability for businesses, Knight officials said.

New funding for the program comes ahead of D1 Discount Days, an annual event that invites residents to explore the goods and services in their neighborhood.

The event, which begins Friday and ends Sunday, encourages residents to invest in their community, and promotes a more vibrant street life. It also helps business owners attract new customers and make connections, city officials said.

“Supporting neighborhood businesses obviously strengthens the financial bottom line for the business, but just as importantly for residents, it creates opportunities for job growth and increases the level of engagement between neighbors and the retailers who service them,” said District 1 Detroit Council Member James Tate.

Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit, said people need to invest in homegrown ideas and businesses to foster vibrant commercial corridors in Detroit.

“The expansion of the District 1 buy-local program will help bring more local jobs and economic growth to our city; residents will be part of the process, helping to create the type of neighborhood where people want to live,” Locker said. “We’re very interested in how neighborhood retail invites more people and more life into the street. We also hope to learn from this effort so it can be duplicated in other neighborhoods.”

The project will be implemented by a steering committee including Tate; Tom Goddeeris, executive director of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.; Jill Ford, special adviser to Mayor Mike Duggan and others.

Since 2008, Knight has pledged more than $80 million to Detroit, including a $19.25 million investment in the arts announced in 2012. It was among the “Grand Bargain” funders in the Detroit bankruptcy case.

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