Resources and opportunities for southeast Michigan entrepreneurs.
Volume 31, April 13, 2020

Make It Your Business is a newsletter from the New Economy Initiative highlighting events, resources, and opportunities for southeast Michigan entrepreneurs.

Taking action in this unprecedented time, NEI has formed a rapid response center to provide a source of information, inspiration, and connectivity. The New Economy Initiative is activating its resources to inform, connect, and move funding in a way that provides relief to their grantees and those they serve.


NEI is keeping a “living” list of questions and answers related to COVID-19 resources for entrepreneurs and businesses. These will be housed on the NEI website, in the bi-monthly newsletter, and shared across NEI social media platforms. If you have questions, please submit them to

Visit under Employees + Labor for in depth answers to these two questions:

  1. Where do we go to get labor and unemployment advice (e.g., managing layoffs, connecting workers to health care)?

  2. How do I make sense of the CARES Act for my business?

3. What is Startup Space, should I sign up, how do I sign up, and how do I use it?

Startup Space is a virtual entrepreneur community platform with a living database of business resources specific to our community. This resource navigation tool connects Detroit’s mentors, investors, and service providers--all dedicated to growing businesses in Detroit. Find out more about Startup Space, including how to sign up here. Angela Williams ( is the local Startup Space representative. She’s available to provide start up and user assistance.

Check out Startup Space’s COVID-19 resource navigation page for southeast Michigan entrepreneurs.

4. Where can I find resources for building or improving my eCommerce site, or shifting to online sales?

Most guides are attached to a platform solution, so take heed at their advice. Here is a list of resources for eCommerce guidance:

Six steps to starting an online store. 

Wikihow on starting an online store. 

MailChimp’s take. 

How to avoid common mistakes with e-commerce. 

How other e-retailers are adapting. 

And note that some retailers are suspending their online services

Moz offers a comprehensive set of actionable ideas for local businesses shifting their models.

“We are encouraging all our clients to see everything through the lens of service if they possibly can. Cater to the immediate needs of people.” Forbes

5. Who can help restaurants learn how to shift to a carry-out only model?

The Harvard Business Review put together some survival tip suggestions. Here is a comprehensive guide of considerations for how to set up delivery service. A number of local businesses have been making this transition. Mongers’ Provisions has added 270 items to its online store, up from ~30, and is providing delivery service. Folk Detroit has shifted to take online pick up and delivery orders. Castalia Cocktails is providing cocktail kits available for curbside pickup featuring three flavors of cocktail ice cubes.

Keeping your customers and prospective customers informed is critical. Google reports a 285 percent increase in searches for “take out” nationally and a 650 percent increase in searches for “is food delivery safe?”. Find additional actionable recommendations here.

Detour Detroit put together a list of their favorite metro Detroit restaurants available via online apps.

The American Marketing Association posted this interview with advice for restaurants on how to communicate their shift in services.

Finally, Bikky is a local restaurant relationship management platform. It looks like we can add metro-Detroit options to help people find and support our local businesses.

Please share other local examples of restaurants and bars making a shift with us at

6. How can I access the money from SBA?

Thanks to Grand River WorkPlace and Southwest Detroit Business Association for alerting us to this Patroncity offer. Patroncity has created a Small Business focused crowdfunding page. For any campaign that goes live before May 15 they are waiving all fees and granting access to collected funds at any time during the campaign. They are even offering one-on-one coaching for interested small businesses.

Freshbooks summarizes 12 major fundraising platforms.

Here are 23 sites that help small businesses raise money online. 

Here are 8 steps to using GoFundMe to fund your business.

Need more assistance applying for an SBA Loan? The City of Detroit can help.

Events + Opportunities

Many around the ecosystem are offering virtual webinars, events and office hours. NEI will also share these on their website. If you are an organization hosting webinars or events or providing technical assistance, please let us know at

NEI funds new round of TechTown stabilization grants with broader reach. 

This is for businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park that have 10 or fewer employees/contractors, including the owner(s). Read the press release here

“This will give our smallest of small businesses an opportunity to access dollars to assist them in this challenging time,” says our Director Pamela Lewis. “This fund is the perfect resource for businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park that are outside of the requirements of state dollars.”

Applications will be available at  beginning at 9 a.m. on April 14. The application process will close April 17 at noon. TechTown will notify awardees via email before April 30.

Business owners who previously have been awarded a grant from either the Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund or the Detroit Small Business Relief Fund Grant for the City of Detroit and Wayne County (administered by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation) are not eligible to apply.

For more information on eligibility and answers to questions you may have, visit TechTown’s website

TechTown Detroit is also offering free consultations with members of their team using digital platforms. Schedule an appointment to be supplied with a link to join the meeting using video conferencing: Open Office Hours and Ask An Expert

The University of Michigan's "Free Accounting Fridays" program is available to help you with accounting/finance concerns (profit and loss statements, cash flow analysis, balance sheets, etc.), and consult on the various loan/grant opportunities related to COVID-19 and help prepare applications. You can make appointments here.

SCORE has been hosting free, LIVE webinars every week on small business tips and strategies. See their upcoming offerings on their website.

The Michigan SBDC has been hosting informational webinars. Watch past recordings and register for upcoming small business support webinars.  

Bamboo Detroit has a lunchtime series bringing local and national founders and investors live to do Q&A on specific topics with local startup companies. Check their site for more details and to sign up.

In Good Company: Stories of Resilience

This is a community of opportunity, brimming with stories of small business resilience and survival. Below are stories shared by In Good Co. Detroit storytellers. 

Carol Himelhoch (yes, that Himelhoch) recreates Detroit’s golden era of retail in the digital age. 

Watch the short film and listen to the podcast to learn more about Carol’s story. 

Follow In Good Co. Detroit on Facebook and Instagram to hear stories of resilience from local entrepreneurs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including Joe Renkiewicz of Henry The Hatter, Cherri Harris of Swint Logistics Group, Inc., and others. 

You are not alone. 

We are here to serve the community and stand as a resource for you. Have any questions related to COVID-19 resources for entrepreneurs and businesses, or have a resource or opportunity to share with the metro Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem? Contact us at


More entrepreneurship events, resources, and opportunities here.

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