Neighborhood revitalization is key to Flint’s recovery



At the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, we believe that Flint’s strong city center plays a significant role in the city and county’s overall progress. However, we recognize that revitalization efforts cannot and should not occur in downtown alone. To see long-term, sustainable change, Flint’s rebound must extend into the city’s neighborhoods as well.

It’s with this in mind that General Motors has partnered with the Flint & Genesee Chamber to create the Moving Flint Forward Small Business Grant Program. While the company often supports charities and nonprofit organizations through its corporate giving efforts, this particular initiative invests in small businesses. In doing so, the program aims to stabilize neighborhoods and support revitalization efforts in all parts of Flint – north, south, east and west.

After receiving more than 100 applications and inquiries, the grant program’s review committee ultimately selected 15 businesses to receive $10,000 each. These include Beck’s Barber and Beauty, FlintPrints, Glam Box Boutique, GoodBoy Clothing, Great Lakes Facility Management, Holmes Building & Construction, Honey Bee Palace Childcare Center, In & Out Complete Services, Liberty Way Holdings, N’Dapanda Consignment Shop, Sherman’s Lounge, Sisco’s Catering, Tenacity Brewing, Totem Books and Vern’s Collision.

These grantees will leverage the funding to expand, repair and improve their businesses in a variety of ways. In north Flint, N’Dapanda Consignment Shop will relocate its home-based business to a nearby garage, which will be brought up to code in the coming months. In south Flint, Sherman’s Lounge will purchase new equipment to better serve its customers. On the east side, Vern’s Collision will upgrade its paint booth and lighting.

And that’s what this program is all about—giving small businesses a boost so they can advance to the next level. Not only will they receive funding, they’ll also meet several times over the course of the next year to network, share lessons learned and receive technical assistance.

What’s particularly exciting about the Moving Flint Forward Small Business Grant Program is that each recipient will partner with a neighborhood nonprofit organization. They might coordinate a service project or provide services pro bono. It’s not only the individual businesses that will benefit—so will some of the many organizations making a positive impact in our community.

Over the past few years, we have focused much of our efforts on redeveloping downtown Flint. And looking at the many businesses along and near Saginaw Street, it’s clear that there has been considerable progress during that time. But for Flint to realize its full potential, we must bring that momentum into all corners of the city—and this grant program offers one pathway to do that.

To learn more about Moving Flint Forward, visit forward.

— Tim Herman is the CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.