Duggan initially proposed spending $ 16 million to boost the Motor City Match contractor funding program and $ 10 million to build off-street parking in commercial corridors.
The newly increased figure, $ 40 million, includes “homeowner support” as well as stimulus programs for the city’s real estate developers, said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, municipal group director for jobs, the economy. and Detroit at Work, at a committee meeting Wednesday.
It would also allow the city to double funding for the Motor City Match and Motor City ReStore entrepreneur programs, help small businesses through grants and low-cost loans, and help them solve technical problems. and access other federal funding programs, said Sherard-Freeman. She estimates that the city has 12,000 active businesses and that funding could help 500.
The increase in business support comes despite the fact that it was the second least popular funding priority in the municipality’s survey results, along with “rebuilding our neighborhoods” and “fighting intergenerational poverty ”in the lead.
But Charity Dean, head of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance and former city official, argues that helping small businesses is needed to build wealth in black communities.
Dean told Crain’s last week that she wanted to see US bailout dollars directed to Detroit Means Business, a public-private partnership aimed at giving small businesses access to capital and other resources.
“Everything you talk about when you talk about reinventing the way our city looks 10 to 15 years from now, small businesses are at the heart of that,” she said.
Dean added that entrepreneurs need to be part of the conversation about tackling intergenerational poverty in Detroit, where an artery of black-owned businesses was wiped out for freeway development in the 1950s and 1960s.
“This is a unique opportunity to make long-term strategic investments that make Detroit and its people more competitive in the global economy,” said Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, in a statement to Crain’s. Baruah added that the chamber, which approved Duggan for a third term, is confident that the mayor’s administration will steer spending well.
Lloyd Talley, co-founder and partner of Detroit-based food company Tiny Dine LLC, said he wants the city to invest not only in job training, but also in the physical infrastructure to make it happen. For example, in the food industry, he said, there aren’t many intermediary structures like community kitchens to help chefs and food businesses move from home business to restaurant to restaurant. full fledged. The city could also use something like a food truck warehouse – many are parking their trucks outside of the city right now, he said.
“I think the influx of money the city receives is remarkable,” said Talley, whose company runs Black Cloud Kitchen and the EastEats dome-based restaurant on the east side. “My first line is I hope it’s not business as usual. I hope we’ll use the money as a city to really assess: what are some of the holes not in the physical infrastructure of the city but commercial infrastructure? “
Job training is good, he said, but there is a gap between large organizations that recruit and entrepreneurs without resources to start. This is especially true when it comes to bouncing back from a disaster, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. How, he asks, can we make small businesses and jobs more resilient?
Johnson said she wanted to see Detroit’s small business groups involved in implementing the funds for commercial demolitions, parking and streetscapes.
“… It is very easy to target certain trade corridors without asking who needs the help the most and which public investments will have the greatest impact,” she said. “So a streetscape on Michigan Avenue, of course, is fine. But repairing sidewalks in front of a business on Mack or Warren (avenues) or Fort (street, outside of the greater downtown area) can have greater impact for the business owner, building owner and bosses. “
The Duggan administration’s amended proposal also includes other funding rounds that intertwine with business concerns. For example, while the updated list reduces the amount spent on tackling “intergenerational poverty” from $ 100 million to $ 67 million, it also increases what it would spend on skills training and access. . Employment is, of course, inextricably linked with the problem of poverty – although a recent study from Detroit Future City shows that the city does not just need jobs but, more specifically, jobs that help people. Blacks in Detroit to enter the middle class.
The new list of funding targets also reduces the amount allocated to parks and recreation, while maintaining the same spending on public safety and policing.
A full overview of the updated spending proposal now before city council is available on the city’s website here. The original breakdown of funding can be found in Crain’s previous story and also on the town’s website.