Cass Avenue startup in Detroit gets $150,000 from state to sew medical protective gowns

April 16, 2020, 3:09 PM by  Alan Stamm

Three Detroit enterprises are among 12 recipients sharing $1 million from the state to make masks, medical gowns and other Covid response products. Support payments also go to two suburban Detroit organizations.

A Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) program launched April 1 provides grants of $25,000 to $150,000 so small manufacturers, including nonprofits, can retool and produce critical health and human service supplies.

Production worker assembles surgical gowns at Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center. (Company photo)

Only two recipients get the maximum amount, and one is the just-launched Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, a Detroit manufacturing and training nonprofit using 12,000 square feet provided without cost by Carhartt atop its Cass Avenue store near Wayne State.

The startup will use its $150,000 grant to make heavy-duty "isolation gowns" for hospital doctors, nurses and technicians. "ISAIC’s network and partners were able to successfully source polypropylene spunbond and meltblown materials, offering much higher protection from viral particles in the PPE [personal protective equipmnent] that will be produced," a recent news release says.

The other Detroit-area recipients of MEDC support are:

  • Commonwealth Sewing Co. in Detroit's New Center: $48,000 to make masks and gowns

  • York Project, a streetwear maker on Holden Street in NW Goldberg: $25,000 to make surgical masks

  • Detroit Sewn, Inc. of Pontiac: $50,000 to make surgical face masks

  • Oxus America, Inc. of Auburn Hills: $100,000 to make valves for oxygen concentrators, a respiratory aid for hospital and nursing home patients

York Project streetwear plant on Holden Street near Lincoln Art Park. (Company photo)

Thursday's state agency announcement says:

The funds could be used to support the purchase of equipment necessary to manufacture critical supplies, logistics and shipping costs of procuring necessary equipment, technology upgrades and other costs related to operationalizing new product lines.

A total of 313 companies requesting more than $30 million applied for the grants. In order to be considered, applicants needed to demonstrate an ability to execute project; need for financial assistance; timeliness; product need in market; and economic impact. All of the available funds have been disbursed with today’s grants. ...

A six-person panel reviewed all applications. Selections were made based ability to execute, need for financial assistance, timeliness, overall economic and public health impact, and demand in the market. Final recipients were selected from the highest-scoring submissions.

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