Detroit could scrap Motor City Match small business grant program

August 04, 2020, 12:47 PM

The Covid crisis could spell the end for a city program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs open brick and mortars.

Motor City Match has given tens of millions in matching grants to more than 1,400 businesses since its inception five years ago. The program was due for a revamp after the end of the year, when its contract with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation runs out.

But now, Crain's reports that revamp is "on pause," with the city mulling whether to adjust the program or scrap it for something else. 

The small business financing landscape has changed. It's not clear if matching grants for storefront space are still the best way to help.

"What I hear from our partners … and our team … Their concern is businesses that we help open may not survive this," Arthur Jemison, Detroit's chief of services and infrastructure, said in referencing the economic fallout from the monthslong pandemic.

"How do we do a 2.0 that's more reflective of the moment we're in?" Jemison said. "How do we get our businesses prepared for the new normal, so they can survive, then get them stabilized and growing?"

(Photo: Facebook, Motor City Match)

Jemison says the administration will soon start considering new ideas. MCM is mainly funded by  Community Development Block Grants from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, which can be used for a variety things.

The federal government halted payments to the program last year amid questions over whether the program was properly keeping records and appropriately using funds. Crain's reports HUD said the city could resume using the funds June 3, following a review. 

Read more:  Crain's Detroit Business

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