Jun 8, 2022 - Business

Ford's Michigan Central launches small business fund

Illustration of a Ford sign, but it says "Fund."
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Ford launched a bootcamp offering training, grants and loans to small businesses near its Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

What's happening: Applications are now open until June 30 for the $500,000 Advancing Community Businesses program, according to a press release provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Small businesses still hurting from the pandemic don't need money alone. They need it paired with individualized mentorship, like one-on-one coaching the nonprofit ProsperUs is providing, executive director Chanell Scott Contreras tells Axios.

  • Plus, even more people are turning to entrepreneurship during the pandemic.
  • ProsperUs and another business education nonprofit, Build Institute, are managing the new program. It joins a landscape of support that's available to Detroit businesses but can be tough to navigate.

How it works: About 25 entrepreneurs near the train station will participate in classes and mentorship on e-commerce, digital marketing, financial planning, growth opportunities and more.

  • At the end of training, businesses can get $5,000-$20,000 each, the release says.

What they're saying: "One of the reasons we chose (these nonprofits) is that they are really leading class in supporting Black and Brown, locally based businesses, and so we know they have a methodology that does that well," Clarinda Barnett-Harrison, community impact lead for Ford's Michigan Central operation, tells Axios.

Context: Dearborn-based Ford is spending approximately $950 million building an electric and autonomous vehicle campus in Corktown.

  • This business academy is part of $10 million in investments Ford agreed to commit to the community that its large-scale development will irrevocably change.
  • The automaker is funding small business support, affordable housing development, skilled trades and more in a deal with the city under the Community Benefits Ordinance.

Reality check: While Ford has fulfilled or is on track to meet many of its community benefits obligations, it remains to be seen just how much of a ripple effect the Michigan Central campus will have on housing prices. Concerns have been voiced about longtime residents getting priced out.

Michigan Central Station building is shown with construction equipment.
Michigan Central Station in Corktown. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios
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