This year, instead of funding new business, they will give aid to alumni of the program who need a little help in these hard times. The $100,000 Hatch Detroit Small Business Alumni Relief Fund will provide utility assistance for more than 40 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest alumni businesses that have opened since the inaugural contest in 2011.
The Comerica and Hatch Detroit’s partnership began in 2012, one year after the inaugural Hatch Detroit Contest. Comerica has donated $50,000 to the new fund.
Hatch Detroit is currently looking for more donations. Businesses, consumers and foundations who wish to help support independent retail businesses through funding, education, exposure and mentoring can donate to the nonprofit can click here.
“Hatch Detroit remains actively engaged with its contest alumni, providing business support far beyond the funding presented to the contest winner each year,” says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. “As we’ve contemplated how to help our alumni businesses, it became clear there are not many specific opportunities for small businesses to apply for utility assistance, and this is often a burden as revenues stop flowing but the bills continue to roll in.
The new fund, the first of its kind to support utility assistance, replaces the annual Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest in 2020.
“It’s no secret that COVID-19 has hit the Detroit area hard, especially the business community,” says Mike Ritchie, Comerica Bank Michigan market president. “The pandemic has undoubtedly affected existing businesses, as well as businesses that were planning to open. Trying to launch a new business in the current climate would be extremely difficult, that is why we are shifting our focus for 2020 to ensure Hatch Detroit alumni continue to succeed and weather this hardship.”
Since Comerica first partnered with Hatch Comerica in 2012, it has donated $650,000 to local start-ups, along with Hatch’s more than $1 million of in-kind services to both contest winners and alumni.
Among those who have benefited from Hatch and made a name for themselves in Detroit are Sister Pie located in West Village. The owner, Lisa Ludwinski, is a 2020 finalist for the prestigious James Beard Awards in the category of outstanding baker.
Past winners have added themselves to some of Detroit’s mist colorful neighborhoods. Six of the nine winners are in Corktown, Midtown and West Village.
One of the reasons it is important to help these businesses out is because they support their communities. The 44 alumni businesses employ 500 local residents across the city, with them investing $7 million in said communities.
“These small businesses were some of the first to help revitalize Detroit more than a decade ago, and they’ve withstood the test of time to survive in this up-and-down economy,” says Katanski. “We can’t, and we won’t, abandon them now – and thanks to all of our incredible partners, especially Comerica, these entrepreneurs can remain hopeful that they can stay in business in the years to come.”
Since Comerica and Hatch Detroit’s partnership began in 2012, Comerica has contributed more than $650,000 in startup funding support to the winner of the annual neighborhood retail competition as well as organizational for Hatch Detroit. Hatch Detroit has also provided more than $1 million of in-kind services to both contest winners and alumni.