Neighborhood Business Initiative case study

NEI Case Study Overview

The Problem

A robust regional economy requires strong, vibrant neighborhoods—places people choose to live because of the amenities and opportunities they afford. By 2014, Detroit’s revitalization was well underway, but it largely focused on downtown and already healthy pockets of the city. Across the 144 square miles that encompassed Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park were many neighborhood businesses that were struggling, and thus hindering the growth of neighborhoods, the city, the region, and the state. These businesses faced barriers to capital, to strategic networks, to property/places, to tools and resources, and to talent.

NEI had historically focused on start-ups, but it acknowledged that existing businesses, “been ups,” especially those underserved communities and those owned by historically underserved populations, needed access to many resources too. Despite the fact that they had been in business for three, five, 10 years, they were still struggling to grow and thrive.

The Solution

NEI believed it was critical to build and sustain an infrastructure that supported existing neighborhood businesses owned by members of historically underserved populations — those that contributed jobs and a sense of place to their communities and enhanced the vitality of the city as a whole.

The Results

Since 2011,


Of the data reported since 2017, these investments, in turn, assisted




Approximately one third were led by women and 27% by a person of color. These businesses employed


were provided to

business support organizations focused on small business support and the Neighborhood Business Initiative

and leveraged


in capital

Learn more, including what we did well, and what we missed

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