Applications open for $50,000 Detroit small business grant

Entrepreneurs looking to open up retail space for new ideas can now submit their plans for prize consideration in a Detroit small business grant competition.

Hatch Detroit is returning for an eighth year with a $50,000 prize, funded by Comerica Bank, to help entrepreneurs open brick and mortar locations in Detroit, Highland Park or Hamtramck.

A plan to open an East African restaurant-market with a juice bar was named the winner of the 2017 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest on Friday.

“The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest is a catalyst for small business in Detroit,” said Vittoria Katanski, director of Hatch Detroit. “Independent retail helps define the character and personality of city neighborhoods.”

Last year’s winner was Baobab Fare, an East African restaurant-market serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee. The owners have not yet opened their own space.

The contest takes place over four months and involves two rounds of public voting to narrow down the top 10 business plans to four finalists. The winner also receives a package with accounting, legal, IT and public relations services from the program and its partners.

Applicants have until July 13 to submit their plans online.

“Supporting and helping bring small business into the city of Detroit is very important to Comerica Bank,” said Monica L. Martinez, senior vice president of external affairs at Comerica Bank.

“Through our partnership with Hatch Detroit, we’ve provided more than $250,000 in prize money and donated marketing and public relations support. We’re looking forward to all the great submissions and awarding this year’s winner with a way to kick start their business.”

Since 2011, 33 Hatch Detroit alumni opened a storefront and 12 are expected to open by March 2019, according to a news release.