4 Detroit small businesses seek COVID-19 relief through MEDC's crowdfunding, matching grant program

A Midtown yoga studio.

An eastside bar and restaurant.

An art gallery in Eastern Market.

An organic waste recovery and reuse service.

These Detroit-based small businesses are enrolled in the state’s MI Local Biz crowdfunding program. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation developed the program as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it has presented to the state’s small businesses.

The MI Local Biz program is modeled after the state’s Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative. In it, businesses create a crowdfunding campaign via the Michigan-based Patronicity platform. Should a business reach its goal, the MEDC then awards that business a matching grant.

"Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are a vital part of the state’s economy, and this program offers innovative access to capital for those businesses currently experiencing a loss in revenue directly related to the COVID-19 crisis," says MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton.

"Helping our local businesses to successfully reopen lays a path for economic recovery in communities across the state, while offering patrons an opportunity to support businesses in a time of need."

The four Detroit businesses enrolled in the program represent the different types of businesses that make up the Detroit small business community. Furthermore, the majority of them are women-owned and two of the four enrolled are Black-owned.

The Detroit Yoga Lab has been closed since March 16, though it has been offering online courses. The yoga studio hopes to use the funds raised via the MI Local Biz program to help reopen. If the studio can raise $5,000 by Sunday, July 12, the MEDC will contribute an additional $5,000 to its efforts.

When Detroiter Nya Marshall was forced to close her American-fusion restaurant IVY Kitchen + Cocktails, she pivoted to partnering with nonprofit organizations to help in the city’s Feed the Frontlines program. She was recognized by the city as a Detroit Hero for her efforts. Marshall hopes to raise $10,000 by Tuesday, June 30, to receive a $10,000 matching grant from the program.

Art gallery Wasserman Projects hopes to reopen with the help of the program, seeking to raise $5,000 by Wednesday, July 8, to win the $5,000 matching grant from the MEDC. Money raised will be used to develop and grow their virtual exhibition capabilities, bolster in-house cleaning and sanitization efforts, recoup lost revenue, and develop future arts programming.

Pashon Murray has until Wednesday, July 1, to raise $5,000 through the crowdfunding program, where she’d then receive a $5,000 matching grant from the MI Local Biz program. Murray started Detroit Dirt in 2011. The organization picks up organic waste and composts it, providing compost for metro Detroit’s urban farms. Money raised will be used to restore and sustain its services.

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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

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