NEIdeas, which awards existing businesses $10K, launches for fifth straight year

It's once again time for small businesses in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park to vie for one of 26 prizes in the NEIdeas Small Business Challenge. Businesses that have been established for at least three years or longer are being encouraged to enter the contest, which awards $10,000 to each of the 26 winners.

Businesses have from May 1 through June 1 to enter the challenge, and can submit their applications online. Nearly 700 businesses entered last year's contest.

This is the fifth year for the NEIdeas Small Business Challenge. The New Economy Initiative launched the program in 2014, which has since awarded $1.9 million to 118 local businesses.

According to the organization, more than 70 percent of winning businesses have been minority-owned, and 60 percent have been woman-owned.

"We are incredibly proud of the diversity of neighborhood businesses and owners that this challenge celebrates," said Pamela Lewis, NEI's director. "These small business owners create vibrancy in our neighborhoods, city, and region."

The purpose of the contest is to help existing businesses in their expansion efforts, awarding small business owners the capital for growth. To be eligible, businesses must have existed for at least three years, gross less than $750,000 annually, and be located in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park.

All that's required for businesses to enter is a 400-word application explaining their idea for growth.

Several information sessions will be held throughout the city to help businesses in the application process. The first is at the Bel Air Cinema on 8 Mile Road in Detroit, a winner of last year's contest. That first information session is on Tuesday, May 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Additional information session locations include Oloman Café in Hamtramck, the Detroit Public Library-Parkman Branch, and a Spanish-language session at Taqueria El Nacimiento in Detroit.

A full list of information sessions, dates, and times can be found here.

Application assistance is also available at one of 28 NEIdeas Ambassador locations throughout the three cities, a full list of which is available here.

For more information on the application process, visit NEIdeas online.

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