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Detroit startups dominate Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Detroit-based startups took the lion’s share of prizes at this year's Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The business plan competition, organized by Michigan Corps, recognizes up-and-coming social entrepreneurs. It awards a total of $60,000 in prizes to 11 companies. Detroit-based companies took four of the top siz prizes in the competition. The fifth went to a Flint-based firm, and the sixth to a Pontiac-focused social enterprise. Several companies in the competition focused on helping youth find work and tackling longterm unemployment.

"The chronic unemployment issue is something we definitely (targeted for this competition)," says Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps. "The youth piece was a pleasant surprise."

Among the Detroit winners are:

- Wheels for Workers, which teaches volunteer mechanics in their teens and twenties how to be mechanics and auto body repair professionals. It won the Michigan Social Entrepreneur of the Year Prize.

- Welding Artisan Center, which provides career-ready training to returning veterans, job-
shifting adults, former inmates, and at-risk teens. It won the Community Transformation Prize.

- On The Rise, a business sponsored by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which is a bakery that employs men who have recently been released from prison or have completed a substance abuse treatment program and desire to truly change their lives. It won the PNC Social Innovation Prize.

- City Girl Soap, which manufactures hand-crafted body soap, lotion, and laundry flakes from goats milk. It won the Women Rock Prize.

Source: Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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