By Mike Murphy
Special to The Review
Three Hamtramck small businesses got a big boost recently as winners of NEIdeas $10,000 grants for having great ideas about how to grow their businesses.
Stan’s Grocery, Alicia’s Cleaners and Alterations, and Pronko Enterprises –Home of Maria’s House Made Salsa — were among the 30 grant winners of the small business competition sponsored by the New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project the nonprofit Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.
“It will be very helpful,” Stan’s Grocery owner Jolanta Tieslawska said.
Tieslawska, who has owned the Polish specialty foods store along with her husband Tzeslaw Tieslawski since 2006, said the couple will be investing the money in a walk-in freezer and advertizing for the grocery store.
The grants targeted existing small businesses operating in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park for at least three years. Most of the businesses were minority and/or female-owned.
In early April, nearly 600 businesses within the boundaries of Detroit submitted 200-word descriptions about their business ideas. According to NEI, some were as ambitious as bringing about a new Motown Records but many were very simple.
And the latter holds true for the Hamtramck businesses that won awards: A walk-in freezer for Stan’s grocery, kitchen equipment to make a more automated processing facility for Maria’s House Made Salsa, and machinery to allow same day pressing and fire, water, and mold restoration at Alicia’s Cleaners.
As described by NEI, the small grants were not designed to transform businesses overnight, but to give them a “little nudge” up the ladder to success.
According to NEI, the program has been about more than just the money. NEIdeas is about connecting small businesses to the resources they need to grow.
The money is not coming from NEI, but through 54 small business support organizations in the City of Detroit, many of which are large granting institutions like the Skillman Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The project, which will also announce two winners of $100,000 grants this month, and is in the midst of a “People’s Choice” competition that will award two additional $10,000 grants to two of four Detroit businesses based on votes from the public to be announced in December, seeks to create an inclusive, innovative and original culture by reawakening and leveraging Detroit’s creative entrepreneurial drive.
The grants were awarded in late October.