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Detroit incubator brings resources, expertise to neighborhood entrepreneurs

Jun 12, 2018

There is plenty of coverage about Detroit’s “comeback.” Stores and restaurants are opening, and downtown is more vibrant than its been in decades.

But the story of the city’s rise from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history often leaves out residents in the city's neighborhoods, who often aren't getting a chance to share in the prosperity.   

Build Institute is working to change that. The organization provides resources and small business development support for “folks who don’t fit into that typical vision we have of a tech entrepreneur,” said Build Institute's executive director April Boyle. 

Stateside sat down with Boyle and Build Institute alumnus April Anderson, who founded Good Cakes and Bakes.

Boyle said her organization wants to ensure small business ownership is accessible to people of color, women, LGBTQ people, young people, people with disabilities, and immigrants. 

Since launching in 2012, Boyle said the group has graduated more than 1,400 entrepreneurs and created 1,000 jobs across Southeast Michigan. The organization partners with more than 500 companies to offer networking events, mentorship, and industry connections to ensure that graduates are prepared to launch and grow their businesses.    

April Anderson, chef and owner of Good Cakes and Bakes, is a Build Institue alumnus. A Detroit native, Anderson has baked for both Oprah Winfrey and President Bill Clinton. She credits the small business incubator with helping her to ultimately define her niche as an organic, all-natural bakery owner.

As a Build Institute board member and program facilitator, Anderson also shares her expertise with budding entrepreneurs. Her bakery serves as an ad hoc community center and small business incubator in the Livernois Avenue district. Earlier this month, the James Beard Foundation selected the pastry chef for its Chefs Bootcamp for Policy and Change culinary group.

Boyle told us she thinks that talent is universal – “we just need to find a way to activate that talent and provide opportunity” for all of Detroit's residents. 

Listen above for Stateside's full conversation with April Boyle and April Anderson. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Gabrielle Horton.

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