TechTown Grant Recipients Making the Most Out of a Stressful Recipe

Three Recipients Discuss Their Struggles of Doing Business Today, and How the Funding Has Helped During COVID-19

TECHTOWN DETROIT ARTIST TEST LAB. PHOTO AMI NICOLE / ACRONYM

The TechTown Stabilization Fund took a giant leap to make sure they were including “businesses most often left out of major city, state and federal relief efforts” with their second-round funding.  As we previously covered, “TechTown understands and works daily with small businesses, they knew that they needed to add makers, service-based businesses, home-based businesses, freelancers and creative industries to the eligible business types.”

New Economy Initiative (NEI) donated $500,000 to the fund. Bank of America contributed an additional $75,000 to the grant fund. TechTown will distribute the grants for qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“The first fund we deployed proved not only the need for this kind of support but also the willingness of funders to fortify our local small business community in the midst of crisis… Through this fund, NEI’s generosity and continued commitment to empowering neighborhoods will benefit hundreds of local businesses almost immediately,” said TechTown CEO Ned Staebler.

“This will give our smallest of small businesses an opportunity to access dollars to assist them in this challenging time,” shared NEI Director Pamela Lewis. “This fund is the perfect resource for businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park that are outside of the requirements of state dollars.”

We asked three of the TechTown Stabilization Grantees a series of questions in order to establish not only what makes their business unique, but, in particular, what challenges are they facing now.

 


 

TechTown Grant Recipients Making the Most Out of a Stressful Recipe 1

GLENN URQUHART, DETROIT ARTISTS TEST LAB

 

DII: How has COVID-19 changed your day-to-day operations?

 

GU: It stopped everything! We rent out space to artistic freelancers and creative start-up entrepreneurs we also rent out podcast and photo studios along with event space. As you can imagine all of the activity here at the DATL has been shut down.

 

DII: What do you think helped your group stand out in order to receive the grant?

 

GU: I think our operation and the varied people that we serve tic all the boxes that TechTown set out to help.

TechTown Grant Recipients Making the Most Out of a Stressful Recipe 2


DII: Longterm, how do you believe that COVID-19 will affect small businesses, and do you have any ideas or tips you’d be willing to share for those who are currently struggling to stay afloat?

GU: Long-term I wonder how long it will take people to come back to social and business events, photoshoots, also the entrepreneurs and freelancers that I serve will they still continue with their business.


For more information on Detroit Artists Test Lab, visit the following links:

Check out our about page for the DATL https://detroittestlab.com/press%2Fabout-us 

 


 

QUIANA BRODEN, COOKING WITH QUE

COOKING WITH QUE

COOKING WITH QUE

DII: How has COVID-19 changed your day-to-day operations?

 

QB: Since COVID-19 we had to completely reinvent ourselves.  There was never a moment when I thought … omg… I have to close down.  My thoughts were, ok… customers can’t come in to get healthy foods, so how do I get it to them.

Now, we offer take out, make meals for families, Cooking with Que Meal Preps that can feed people 7 days per week, and fresh raw  juices to assist in boosting immune systems.  I also reached out to first responder teams, people that I knew would be working around the clock, and we have been serving different crews at the health department and Henry Ford Hospital.

Our greatest addition is our Fresh Produce Marketplace.  You can actually order fresh groceries from us and we deliver.  I learned how to create a site, and it’s super easy, so now we have www.thekitchenbycwq.com for our physical location called the Cafe, Marketplace & Catering.  Our original site www.cookingwithque.com still holds our blog, recipes, YouTube show, and meal prep program.

For those who are in need, we (The Kitchen by Cooking with Que) have been partnering with the Eat to Live Foundation along with other restauranteurs like the Nosh Pit to provide healthy food boxes weekly for families in need.

It has been a blessing to have been open every day since the shut down started, we have even hired staff because we have been consistently working. Ultimately COVID-19 has helped us become more structured and organized in our day to day business operations, and maximized what we could be doing to bring healthy food to our community by any means necessary.

 

DII: What do you think helped you stand out in order to receive the grant?

 

QB: First, we are very organized with our finances (our CFO Jamila is all over our finances), so we knew exactly where we were, and what we needed to stay afloat.  Second, we were not changing our mission even through COVID-19.  Our mission is to teach people to eat to live by introducing more plant-based foods into everyday living, so instead of having the community come to us, we wanted to get to the community. Still promoting healthy eating, and who needs to stay healthy to keep taking care of the community outside of our members?  The First Responders. If there is one thing to learn from this pandemic, is that what you put in your body is what you get out of it. You have to take preventative measures by eating a healthy nutritious diet, and our food provides that.

 

DII: Longterm, how do you believe that COVID-19 will affect small businesses, and do you have any ideas or tips you’d be willing to share for those who are currently struggling to stay afloat?

 

QB: Honestly, if you see a need, fill a need. In business, small or large, you have to listen to what the needs of the people are.

1. Listen to the people.  Sometimes as business owners, we want to do what we want, but “we” aren’t our client. Figure out what the need is, and fulfill it. The simplest way possible.

2. Keep your finances in order.  BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Any grant, loan, financing, funders will want to see your finances from the past and present. Know where you are at all times, and know what your goals are and work towards them.

3. Don’t be afraid to try something new.  The only constant thing in life is Change.  Deal with it. Surely God didn’t bring you this far to leave you hanging. So adjust. AND QUIT TALKING YOURSELF OUT OF IT.

 

DII: Any other information you would like to share?

 

COOKING WITH QUE, THE STOREFRONT

COOKING WITH QUE, THE STOREFRONT

QB: As a small business owner, we feel every emotion….sometimes all in one day! A rule of thumb is to never forget to celebrate the small victories.  All victories aren’t MILLION DOLLAR VICTORIES. So, I like to remember to celebrate the small victories daily. I may have a list of 10,000 things to do, but if I attack at least three, and get three done in a day, that’s a victory to me.

No matter how the times may look, there is always light. If you are scared of the dark….TURN THE LIGHT ON!

Happiness is a choice. You can choose to find the positive in every situation. Even if it seems like there is none. There is always a positive. You woke up. Positive. You are breathing. Positive. Just look for it.

 

For more information on Cooking with Que, visit the following links:

 


 

 

LESTER GOUVIA, NORMA G’S CUISINE

TEAM AT NORMA G'S CUISINE

TEAM AT NORMA G’S CUISINE

DII: How has COVID-19 changed your day-to-day operations?

LG: I’ve had to lay off seven staff members and have had to change my business model to only carry out service.

 

 

DII: What do you think helped you stand out in order to receive the grant?

LG: I am not certain. I do know that my loss in revenue was substantial from a percentage basis.

 

 

DII: Longterm, how do you believe that COVID-19 will affect small businesses, and do you have any ideas or tips you’d be willing to share for those who are currently struggling to stay afloat?

 

LG: I don’t think I have an idea or tip to pass along. The difficult part of this is you have to find an answer or approach that can fit your situation.  Each business will have to adapt to the new “norm” which I believe will be dictated by our customers’ behaviors.

NORMA G'S CUISINE

NORMA G’S CUISINE

 

DII: Any other information you would like to share?

LG: I wish I could feel confident about how others in charge will manage this over time.

For more information on Norma G’s Cuisine, visit the following link:

 

@normagscuisine

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