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Michigan Central is pledging $500,000 as a resource for Detroit entrepreneurs and small businesses through education, training and mentorship, as well as grants and loans of up to $20,000, delivering on its continued commitment to help the community surrounding the 30-acre mobility innovation district thrive.

Any business located in or near the Michigan Central impact area with one to 10 years of operating history, two or more employees, and annual revenue of less than $500,000 can apply online to be considered for the Advancing Community Businesses Program.

Approximately 25 businesses will be selected based on defined program eligibility to receive business education through a series of courses, as well as access to grants and loans to help grow their business.

The business academy, developed using community input, will feature a menu-style series of courses in business development and online business education. Participants will be able to select courses relevant to their business needs and goals – as many as they see fit. They will have access to grants and loans ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 based on the completion of applicable training program offerings.

“It was important for us to take a holistic approach to address business growth not only in dollars, but also education,” said Clarinda Barnett-Harrison, Michigan Central community impact lead. “With Michigan Central being an open platform for partnership, we wanted to include nonprofit partners who could help us bring meaningful community engagement through this program. We think it could bring big changes such as new employment, additional locations and expanded footprints, even new or enhanced e-commerce operations for participating businesses. This is meant to offer the selected businesses a dedicated growth resource in the neighborhoods they have helped make a landmark.”

The program will be administered by Michigan Central’s local nonprofit partners, including Build Institute, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial hub that provides education, capital, and talent for micro-businesses, and ProsperUs Detroit, which specializes in mentoring and one-on-one development. The Advancing Community Businesses program launches this month and continues through 2022.

Working with the Build Institute, small business owners will learn about e-commerce platforms and digital marketing, as well as growing their online and social media presence.

“The last two years of rapid change pushed small business owners to grow their knowledge of e-commerce platforms and digital marketing to keep pace with customer demand,” said Regina Ann Campbell, Build Institute president and CEO. “Our national partnership with GoDaddy enables us to help owners build their online presence while enhancing website performance and social media capabilities.”

Participants will also have direct access to mentorship, coaching and business development planning through the ProsperUs network of professionals. The organization, which was established in 2012, has helped over 1,300 businesses and entrepreneurs in a wide array including food-based and retail businesses, daycares, salons and landscapers, as well as business-to-business and professional services.

“We’ve been working in Southwest Detroit since our inception and we’ve built wonderful relationships and seen our clients launch and grow businesses that make the community a better place,” said Chanell Scott Contreras, executive director, ProsperUs Detroit. “To do this work in partnership with Michigan Central is very exciting because it means there will be additional resources for the community that will continue to strengthen and make the surrounding neighborhoods even more vibrant with businesses that provide the goods and services that increase the quality of life for all of us.”

The Advancing Community Businesses Program is the first in a new series of community development programs coming from Michigan Central. Future programs will support the local workforce, housing development and education. Follow this link for more details about the program and to apply. The application period runs through June 30.