TechTown BLOCKS clients Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, Blessed and Highly Favored Juice Bar, Detroit Denim and Motor City Popcorn have each been awarded $10,000 in the 2015 NEIdeas Challenge. Winners of the $10,000 Challenge were announced last night at Detroit’s Gem Theatre.
Tech Town’s BLOCKS programs include SWOT City and Retail Boot Camp. SWOT City is a small business support program for brick-and-mortar enterprises in Detroit neighborhoods. The program provides one-on-one assistance to help launch, stabilize and grow local businesses and strengthen commercial districts. The program currently works in seven Detroit neighborhoods, in partnership with community-based organizations. Retail Boot Camp is an intensive, eight-week program that prepares serious, Detroit-based entrepreneurs for the opening of their brick-and-mortar retail establishments.
“NEIdeas is the perfect example of Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem at work,” says Regina Ann Campbell, TechTown’s managing director of place-based entrepreneurship. “TechTown prepares our clients to compete for and access capital. Along with NEIdeas and our many other partners, we are not just supporting local businesses. We’re helping entire commercial districts thrive.”
Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, named after the northern state of Mexico, has been serving tamales in Detroit since 1957 and is located at 2669 Vernor Highway in Southwest Detroit. The tamaleria sells about 500 dozen tamales a week. SWOT City is assisting owner Susana Garza Villarreal with online marketing, credit card processing and shipping and packaging research.
Blessed and Highly Favored Juice Bar offers a large variety of healthy smoothies and raw juices. They are co-located with 1917 American Bistro along the University District’s Avenue of Fashion and are planning to open a stand-alone location. SWOT City has assisted owners Freeman and Karen Fenny with NEIdeas and other funding applications and connected them to pro bono accounting, legal and business plan services.
Started in 2010, Detroit Denim initially operated out of founder Eric Yelsma’s home. Today, Detroit Denim has expanded to six employees and is moving from the Ponyride co-working space to a building in the Rivertown/East Jefferson neighborhood, where they will lauch a retail store. SWOT City will support Yelsma as he relocates and launches his storefront.
Motor City Popcorn was created in 2012. By 2014, the company had secured a vendor contract for Cobo Hall, in addition to developing a product line of over 17 different flavors. Motor City Popcorn is currently available at the Detroit Metro Airport and in select Shinola stores throughout the country. With the support of TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp, they are preparing to establish a Detroit-based popcorn café.
TechTown’s programs have developed a reputation for producing winners and finalists of major funding competitions, including Hatch Detroit (Sister Pie and Live Cycle Delight), Motor City Match (Coffee and ____ and Pedicure and Shoes 2 Go) and Entrepreneur-YOU (Love Travels Imports and Evolve). For more information on TechTown’s BLOCKS programs, visit techtowndetroit.org/blocks/.