Established in 2012, REV Birmingham (REV) is a public-private economic development organization that fosters vibrant commercial districts by filling vacant spaces and growing sustainable businesses. The organization works out of SocialVenture, an abandoned warehouse redeveloped into a mixed-use facility that also houses the Woodlawn Foundation, a coworking space, and a small, affordable retail space. To support entrepreneurs, REV offers business development workshops and has a stall in The Pizitz Food Hall designed to serve as a rotating business accelerator where start-up restaurants can launch their businesses and receive technical assistance. To expand access to healthy food, REV’s Urban Food Project connects corner stores and restaurants in city food deserts to 40 area farms, and helps corner store owners purchase, market, and sell fresh produce.
Guided by a mission to invest in imagination and invention, Create Birmingham strives to construct and support diverse avenues for commercial and nonprofit creative success. Through its Co.Starters program, creative entrepreneurs learn how to turn business ideas into action, and upon graduation can access grant and loan funding. The nonprofit also maintains a free community calendar, which usually highlights 30,000 public events, and a free on-line platform to help match those seeking space for an exhibition, performance, pop-up or bricks-and-mortar storefront with property owners who have available rentals. The nonprofit also engages in advocacy work to ensure Birmingham’s creative industries are recognized for both their cultural and economic impacts.
Catalyzed to overcome the underutilization of Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (MBE/DBE) in Birmingham’s economic growth, the Birmingham Construction Industry Authority (BCIA) provides certification, counseling, and other technical assistance to area MBE/DBE firms. Since its establishment in 1990, BCIA is credited with certifying over 200 businesses and helping MBE/DBE companies access more than $650 million in contracts and awards.
Founded by city officials and business lending organizations, the Birmingham Business Resource Center serves as a “one-stop-shop” providing area entrepreneurs with training and financial assistance. Since its establishment in 1996, the Center is credited with lending more than $350 million to small businesses.
Based in Birmingham, the Alabama Asset Building Coalition is a statewide group helping underserved Alabama residents reach their highest potential and strengthen their financial future. Founded in 2008, the coalition now includes nonprofits, community action agencies, community development organizations, United Ways, federal and state government, banking regulatory agencies, and financial institutions. The coalition’s work centers around four core activities: 1) supporting Alabama organizations involved in asset building initiatives; 2) identifying asset building opportunities and implementing new strategies and programs; 3) serving as an educational resource on asset building strategies; and 4) advocating for state and federal policy changes that expand economic opportunity.
Founded in 1903 to support immigrant populations, Grace Hill Settlement House now works in partnership with neighbors and other stakeholders in North and South St. Louis to provide opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to be stronger, healthier, and more self-reliant. In 2011, the nonprofit opened the Water Tower Hub to serve as a one-stop shop for its economic, education, and health services. Water Tower Hub includes a Head Start Center, 15 units of housing with supportive services, a branch of the St. Louis Credit Union, comprehensive employment services, and a women’s business center (which is credited with helping to create 100 jobs on an annual basis). To build residents’ capacity, Grace Hill runs a Neighborhood College program, through which residents can take courses that will help them better themselves, their families, or their neighborhoods.
Catalyzed in 2010 as a joint initiative between the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Spaceworks Tacoma aims to make Tacoma culturally vibrant and economically strong by training and supporting local artists and creative entrepreneurs. To support and provide visibility to local creative entrepreneurs, Spaceworks offers creatives training, professional development opportunities, and temporary space, and runs community events that highlight local artists and foster community interaction. To help grow the city’s creative economy, Spaceworks also operates an Incubator Program that offers participants small business training and peer-to-peer support. In 2015, Spaceworks expanded its programming by establishing 1120 Creative House, a facility featuring 12 affordable studios and an open shared space for community events and activities.
Sound Outreach is a human services nonprofit focused on ensuring all residents of Pierce County can achieve sustainable, independent living. The nonprofit’s Hilltop Center for Strong Families aims to provide a “cross-sector” approach to meet area residents’ needs by bundling employment coaching, access to public benefits, financial education, and counseling services, and by providing space within the Center to Tacoma Housing Authority staff and loan officers from Harborstone Credit Union. Recognizing that many area residents lack adequate transportation, Sound Outreach employees also provide services at more than 40 other locations across the county, including senior centers, food banks, and community centers.
Founded in 2000 to support tech-based spinoffs from Wayne State University, TechTown broadened its focus as it recognized that its programs could also strengthen small, neighborhood businesses. The nonprofit currently offers a range of business programs that help launch and grow both tech and neighborhood businesses at all stages of development. Between 2007 and 2016, TechTown’s programs served more than 1,800 businesses, creating nearly 1,300 jobs and leveraging more than $120 million in start-up capital.
Build Institute helps people develop ideas and grow businesses by providing access to education, resources, and a supportive, engaged community. In addition to supporting traditional entrepreneurs, the nonprofit runs Build Social, which aims to grow Detroit’s social entrepreneurship movement by teaching double and triple bottom line business practices. Since its start in 2012, Build has graduated over 1,000 entrepreneurs, 85 percent of whom are low or moderate income.
The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DECG) focuses on designing and implementing public and private sector collaborations that drive investment, create jobs, and advance Detroit’s economy. Through its D2D program, the nonprofit works to connect Detroit-based suppliers and buyers. In 2015, D2D was credited with helping small Detroit construction companies access projects totaling $228.5 million and encouraging 18 large buying organizations to commit $856 million to local purchasing. DECG’s Motor Match Program supports Detroit entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing a business by helping them identify viable spaces and then providing grants, loans, and counseling to building owners and businesses. To date, the program has supported over 760 businesses and has made $3.9 million in grants—investments that are credited with leveraging an additional $24 million.