Development across Detroit has increased exponentially. It would seem that this construction boom would be a wonderful opportunity for Detroit-based contractors. But up until very recently, systemic barriers prevented smaller, BIPOC and women-owned companies from competing with larger and non-minority owned contracting companies.

This historic inequity led to one of our most important investments: Last year, we announced the launch of the Motor City Contractor Fund (MCCF), a $10M pilot program seeded by the Rocket Community Fund to equip Detroit-based contractors and minority-owned construction firms with the resources, financing and training they need to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. MCCF is now led by the Gilbert Family Foundation and has been developed alongside partners and experts at the Community Reinvestment Fund, Invest Detroit and Barton Malow Builders, with Lifeline Global Consulting leading the technical assistance portion of MCCF.

In addition to providing access to funding, as well as a $5,000 grant, cohort members were placed into three technical assistance curriculum categories. They participated in industry-led workshops focusing on all aspects of the business, such as identifying new job prospects, exploring digital marketing, connecting directly with lenders about financing and learning from industry experts on business best practices.

Now we are at a pivotal moment for the 20 Detroit-based contractors who participated in our first cohort: Graduation. Recently, 19 members of the pilot cohort were celebrated in a commencement-like ceremony at Marygrove College. Participants discussed how the program has benefited their respective businesses, and we heard from the leaders who developed MCCF on why this program is so critical to the city of Detroit, and how they hope to see it evolve.