Mike Gallagher, CMF Editorial Correspondent
It is an unprecedented success story that is changing lives and helping rebuild a rebounding city by providing new jobs and opportunities through the promotion of stable economic growth while engendering a creative and strong network of support for fledgling entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Since its inception in 2007, the New Economy Initiative (NEI) has proven to be a powerful and sustained force in propelling the Detroit region forward economically, socially and spiritually, say community leaders across a broad spectrum of southeastern Michigan.
In response to the financial hurdles facing the Detroit area at that time, 10 foundations came together to create NEI by contributing an initial $100 million with a stated purpose of “returning Detroit to its position as a global economic leader.”
NEI’s creation – and success - is a result of the leadership and farsighted vision of Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM); Dave Egner, president/CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation and NEI executive director; the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) and foundations who provided millions of dollar in funding and operating grants.
NEI Sparks Explosive Growth
NEI took on the challenge in southeast Michigan and its success is found in the numbers.
Since 2009, NEI has awarded 149 grants totaling $85.3 million, while exposing more than 63,000 individuals to entrepreneurial services and helping to create approximately 1,233 new companies and 10,300 new jobs in the southeast Michigan regional economy. In addition, more than $578 million was leveraged into the entrepreneurial ecosystem through not only entrepreneurs themselves, but also through the grantees and service providers.
The work of NEI also has helped to launch 716 patents and invention disclosures in the region and exposed 257 business ventures to 80 local and national investors as of August of this year.
“Every resident, every business, every young entrepreneur should give a big thank you to the foundations that are using their dollars and expertise to bring Detroit and this region back to economic stability and growth,” said former Motown Mayor Dave Bing.
Those sentiments are echoed by current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “This (NEI support) is helping existing businesses grow, giving new entrepreneurs a chance to enter the marketplace and breathing new life into our city. I think it’s terrific!”
That success is continuing today as NEI has received new funding commitments in 2014 totaling $33.25 million from 10 national, regional and local foundations to continue its work.
To date, NEI has received commitments from nine of its original funders, with the addition of the William Davidson Foundation. The new funding currently breaks down as follows:
- The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (Miami) - $5 million
- Ford Foundation (New York) - $5 million
- The Kresge Foundation (Detroit) - $5 million
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek) - $5 million
- The William Davidson Foundation (Southfield) - $5 million
- Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit) - $2.5 million
- Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint) - $2 million
- Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit) - $1.5 million
- The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield) – $1.5 million
- McGregor Fund (Detroit) - $750,000
“The re-commitment from our original partners, as well as a new supporter, is due to the success NEI has demonstrated in this region,” said CFSEM President Noland. “It’s imperative we build on the momentum of this initiative to put us in a better position for long-term and sustained economic growth.”
NEI also is keeping its promise to continue to be a dynamic, game-changing funder in 2014 as it has already awarded nearly $11.5 million in grants during the first half of this year to 22 different organizations across the region.
These grants are providing and/or connecting entrepreneurs to essential support in the areas that impact the life cycle of any business, says Egner: tools, ideas, talent, capital and place. Some of those grants include:
- $400,000 to the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) to fund its Growth Center that provides training and technical assistance for immigrant and non-English speaking populations to develop and grow businesses.
- $250,000 to Bizdom for continued support of operational expenses for entrepreneurial training programs and inclusion-driven marketing campaigns.
“Through NEI’s investment in these grantees and their projects, we are helping to grow and expand the infrastructure and ecosystem that supports our region’s entrepreneurs and small business owners,” said Egner.
“Our overarching goal is to establish a more diverse economy in our region where opportunity, wealth and prosperity are available for all.”
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