(DETROIT – May 21, 2014) TechTown Detroit announced today that it was awarded a one-year, $180,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to support its Blocks Retail Boot Camp and the expansion of its SWOT City program to Detroit’s historic University District.
The grant is part of the foundation’s $100 million investment in Detroit. Over the next five years, its grants and loans will accelerate Detroit’s blight-removal efforts, strengthen workforce development, fund urban redevelopment projects, train entrepreneurs and more.
“Support from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation will allow TechTown to breathe new energy into its work – delivering, with urgency, a meaningful and efficient expansion of its existing services,” said Leslie Smith, president and CEO of TechTown. “These strategies will help move Detroit with purpose, commitment and intent toward a new economic and social reality.”
The grant directly supports and accelerates established TechTown programs, working to further leverage the generous investments already made by the New Economy Initiative, the Marjorie S. Fisher Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
TechTown’s Blocks Retail Boot Camp is a competitive program that prepares serious entrepreneurs with strong retail concepts for the successful launch of their brick-and-mortar business in a core Detroit commercial district after program completion.
Weekly sessions facilitated by business development and retail experts are designed to be Detroit-specific, with topics ranging from government regulations and processes, to taxes and insurance and sound fiscal management. The program culminates with a showcase where the top three performers are awarded prize funds that provide critical start-up capital, network support to identify appropriate and affordable permanent retail space, and ongoing technical business support delivered through TechTown’s SWOT City program. To receive these services, the entrepreneurs are required to meet regularly with an assigned mentor and achieve critical, tightly woven milestones.
Depending on the retail concept and market need, the storefront may be located in one of TechTown’s SWOT City neighborhoods, Midtown or downtown. These districts are already the focus of local density creation strategies, where efforts to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs are affected by the lack of start-up capital, affordable space and ongoing technical business support.
Support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation for the Retail Boot Camp program, paired with TechTown’s existing resources, will turn aspiring entrepreneurs into prepared and supported business owners. The permanent retail businesses created as a result of this program will help build density and vibrancy in our city’s neighborhoods.
Under the grant, TechTown will also expand its SWOT City program into the University District.
SWOT City combines economic development and start-up acceleration strategies to transform historically underserved neighborhoods into vibrant and dense communities.
Rather than serving businesses alone, TechTown sees a broader obligation to create an enabling environment for economic development — one that addresses five pillars of neighborhood stability: Economy and Employment, Safety, Education, Housing and Social/Civic Engagement.
Over the course of a three-year neighborhood engagement, TechTown assesses the current state of each pillar, develops a comprehensive stabilization and growth strategy for improvement, then works to transition neighborhood businesses into viable enterprises that are contributors to, rather than detractors from, these strategic revitalization efforts.
Together, TechTown and its partners work to create a new economic reality — a liveable and walkable community with the support infrastructure necessary for businesses and residents to thrive in the place they call home.
TechTown launched SWOT City in Brightmoor through the generous local support of the New Economy Initiative and Marjorie S. Fisher Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. As a result of this investment and a strong partnership with the Brightmoor Alliance, TechTown has made significant positive impacts and was able to fully develop the program into a scalable and efficient concept. This progress led to a federal grant in fall 2013 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand SWOT City into East Jefferson, Grandmont Rosedale and Osborn, reaching a current total of 78,000 Detroit residents.
TechTown is Detroit’s business innovation hub. As the city’s most established business accelerator and incubator, it serves as a dynamic point of convergence for talent, customers and capital. By helping entrepreneurs navigate the path to market, its work catalyzes entire communities of startups in technology, retail and wholesale for an inclusive approach to economic development. TechTown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located within the Woodward Technology Corridor SmartZone. For more information, visit techtowndetroit.org.
About the JP Morgan Chase Foundation
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
# # #