Public voting opens for $100K small business contest in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park

What’s happening: Just a few days remain for the public to put in their votes for the 2022 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest, a small business competition that will award $100,000 to an entrepreneur based in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park. The ten semi-finalists were announced Thursday, June 16, and now voting is open to the public through Thursday, June 23. The top four businesses will then move on to the final event, which is planned for Thursday, July 21.

Why it’s important: The Hatch Detroit Contest has seen 49 of its alumni open businesses since the contest was first launched in 2011, employing more than 500 people and resulting in more than $7 million in investment. Grand prize winners include some recognizable names, including Sister Pie (2014), Baobab Fare (2017), and 27th Letter Books (2019).

Top ten: This year’s ten semi-finalists include a range of businesses in type and place. They include Colfetarie, a Romanian dessert and pastry shop; Craig’s Coffee, a community coffee roastery and coffee bar; Detroit Farm and Cider, a 4.9 acre farm on the city’s west side; Gajiza Dumplins, an Asian street food and dumpling shop; Jo’s Gallery Cafe, a pan-ethnic fusion restaurant; K. Walker Collective, a high-street, lifestyle clothing store; Lily’s & Elise, a luxury tea lounge; Little Liberia, an Afro-fusion restaurant; Motor City House of Stone, a purveyor of granite, marble, quartz, and other stone; and Pong Detroit, a table tennis social club.

How to vote: Voting is open online and participants can vote once per day through the semi-finalist round. In-person voting events are also planned for Tuesday, June 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Eastern Market Shed #2; Wednesday, June 22, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Norma G’s; and Thursday, June 23, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Grandmont Rosedale Farmers Market.

What they’re saying: "One of the reasons this contest has been so successful is because of the level of support the business owners receive from their neighbors and how community driven it is," says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. "Every vote they receive is someone saying, 'I want you in my neighborhood and will support you,' which is incredibly powerful. They not only get the public support from day one, they also have access to the technical assistance expertise of Hatch Detroit and the support of our partners at Comerica Bank and TechTown."

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.