Hatch Detroit Launches Small Business Alumni Relief Fund with $100,000 from Comerica Bank

Every summer, Hatch Detroit and its sponsoring company, Comerica Bank, create a month-long buzz around entrepreneurs and small-business development through its unique contest to find the next “big idea” in retail, restaurants or other industries in Highland Park, Hamtramck or Detroit.

This year, coronavirus has changed the event – but in a way that organizers are excited to share. Comerica Bank and Hatch Detroit announced they are expanding upon their longtime partnership by creating the Hatch Detroit Small Business Alumni Relief Fund to support alumni businesses of the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest that have been financially affected by COVID-19.

The $100,000 relief fund provides utility assistance for more than 40 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest alumni businesses that have opened since the inaugural contest in 2011.

“Hatch Detroit remains actively engaged with its contest alumni, providing business support far beyond the funding presented to the contest winner each year,” Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit, said in a statement.

“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,” Katanski said. “We’re thrilled to partner with Comerica on this first $100,000 of funding, and hopeful other corporations and foundations will step up to contribute as well.”

The new fund, the first of its kind to support utility assistance, replaces the annual Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest in 2020. Hatch Detroit will continue to seek additional funds to provide further support to its small business network.

Businesses, consumers and foundations who wish to aid in Hatch Detroit’s mission of supporting independent retail businesses through funding, education, exposure and mentoring can donate to the nonprofit by visiting www.hatchdetroit.com/donate.

In addition, Comerica has invested an additional $50,000 to provide organizational support to Hatch Detroit in 2020.

Since Comerica and Hatch Detroit’s partnership began in 2012, one year after the inaugural Hatch Detroit Contest, Comerica has now 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.

Over the years, the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest has helped launch some of Detroit’s most successful and well-known businesses, including Sister Pie located in West Village. Sister Pie owner Lisa Ludwinski is a 2020 finalist for the prestigious James Beard Awards in the category of outstanding baker.

Contest alumni all provide a unique approach to providing essential services in the city, and currently, six of the nine previous contest winners are serving neighborhoods such as Corktown, Midtown and West Village.

In addition to contest winners, alumni businesses remain strong advocates for the neighborhoods they serve by hiring people who live in the community. More than 500 employees across Hatch Detroit’s 44 businesses reside in Detroit, and Hatch alumni have collectively invested more than $7 million in their businesses, while five have either expanded or added an additional location.

Hatch Detroit is a Michigan based 501(c)(3) organization supports both existing and new retail initiatives in the cities of Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Hatch Detroit was founded in 2011 to give residents and aspiring entrepreneurs a voice in the redevelopment of Detroit. Beyond the contest, Hatch Detroit provides funding, exposure and mentoring in support of its alumni entrepreneurs. Together, Hatch Detroit alumni have opened 44 businesses, employ over 500 people, and have invested over $7 million in their businesses.