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GM, National Business League, Comerica Bank and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City Partner on Black Technical Assistance Initiative

By: 3BL Media

Tuition-free program offers executive education, training, mentorship to Detroit’s small business owners

SOURCE: Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)


August 26, 2021 /3BL Media/ - General Motors, the National Business League, and Comerica Bank have partnered with Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) to offer a free executive education and virtual training program designed to help strengthen and grow Detroit’s Black-owned small businesses.

Through this strategic partnership, dubbed the Black Technical Assistance Initiative, a cohort of ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program— a tuition-free, 40-hour “mini-MBA” program that combines executive education, webinars and coaching delivered by top-ranking university professors and local experts—is being offered to small business owners in the Detroit area. The Black Technical Assistance Initiative is actively recruiting Black-owned businesses in under-resourced communities to apply for the ICCC Detroit cohort that begins in October.

“At General Motors we recognize that supplier diversity is the economic engine that drives empowerment, equity, and inclusion into our supply chain and business community,” said General Motors’ Director of DEI Partnerships Reginald Humphrey. “Our vision is to achieve equitable & sustainable supply chain inclusion goals that ensure long-term viability for our diverse supply base. Our mission is to serve as bridge builders, connecting an ecosystem of diverse suppliers, communities, advocacy organizations and customers. Our aim is to ensure that these connections drive lasting business relationships, customer loyalty, and world class parts and services that support our long-term viability.”

Black-owned businesses were among the hardest and earliest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Black business ownership declined 41% nationally compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses during the height of the pandemic. The ICCC program is designed to help small businesses located in underserved communities, particularly those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, to develop strategies that build their capacity for sustainable growth and present opportunities to connect with capital sources to create jobs locally.

“As a response to the severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Black businesses in the city of Detroit and nationally, it is important that our national organization provides measurable solutions in response to economic problems,” said Kenneth L. Harris, PhD, president and CEO of the National Business League. “Being that there are more than 49,000 Black-owned businesses in the city of Detroit, which comprise 80% of Detroit’s 62,000 small businesses, the Black Technical Assistance Initiative will aim to help these neighborhood enterprises build the necessary capacity, scope, and scale to compete in the growing minority marketplace throughout the United States of America and globally.” 

The Black Technical Assistance Initiative, along with support from Arctaris Impact Investors, Cardinal Health, Kevin and Katie Prokop, and Target, has helped enable the ICCC program’s return to Detroit which was offered to area small businesses between 2011 and 2013. During its three previous Detroit cohorts, the ICCC program graduated 171 small business owners who have raised $129M in capital, achieved 262% revenue growth, and created 1,578 local jobs since their participation in the program.

“At Comerica, we remain committed to supporting the National Business League in its pursuit of creating and increasing economic opportunities for underserved businesses, while equipping and empowering Black-owned business owners with the necessary tools to overcome the obstacles and challenges they continue to face on the road to recovery,” Comerica Bank Chief Community Officer Irvin Ashford, Jr. said.  “Our bank strives to make impactful, intentional and innovative investments in programs like the Black Technical Assistance Initiative.”

Entrepreneurs accepted into the ICCC program will participate in 40 hours of high-impact virtual learning that is divided into four components designed to maximize each participant’s experience and accommodate their busy schedules. The ICCC Detroit cohort opens with two half-day seminars on the afternoons of Monday, October 18 and Wednesday, October 20. Throughout the program, participants engage in webinars, digital learning sessions, and one-on-one business coaching appointments that tackle immediate challenges facing each individual business owner. The program culminates with a virtual national conference that focuses on building strategies of resilience and connecting participants with capital providers.

“There are a large number of businesses in Detroit that are poised for growth, but do not have access to the resources needed to grow,” said ICIC CEO Steve Grossman. “The Inner City Capital Connections program aims to create sustainable small business ecosystems in which their owners prosper, helping to reduce concentrated poverty, close the racial wealth gap, and revitalize communities. We are thrilled that this partnership with GM, the National Business League, and Comerica Bank is supporting the ICCC program’s return to Detroit and supporting the region’s small business owners.”

The application deadline for the ICCC 2021 Detroit cohort is Friday, September 24. Visit ICIC’s website for additional detail about the ICCC program including eligibility criteria and to apply,

About General Motors (GM)

About General Motors (GM) At General Motors, we aspire to be the most inclusive company in the world. In every moment, we must decide what we can do – individually and collectively – to drive meaningful, deliberate change.  Our vision is a world with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. More information on the company can be found at

About the National Business League (NBL)

Founded on August 23, 1900, by legendary educator and reformer Booker T. Washington, the NBL is the first and largest not-for-profit, nonpartisan, and nonsectarian Black business and professional trade association in the United States. The organization has more than 120,000 members, 125 Fortune 500 corporate partners, and 367 chapters nationwide and internationally. Regional offices are located in Atlanta, GA, Detroit, MI, Los Angeles, CA, Cape Town, South Africa and Washington, DC. The NBL advocates for the economic empowerment and independence of 2.6 million Black businesses throughout the United States. For more information, please visit or the following social media pages: Twitter,; Facebook,; Instagram, @theNBL1900; and LinkedIn,  

About Comerica Bank

Comerica Bank, a subsidiary of Comerica Incorporated, has served Michigan longer than any other bank with a continuous presence dating back 170 years to its Detroit founding in 1849. It is the largest bank employer in metro Detroit and has more than 4,700 employees (FTE) statewide. With one of the largest banking center networks in Michigan, Comerica nurtures lifelong relationships with unwavering integrity and financial prudence. Comerica positively impacts the lives of Michigan residents by helping customers be successful, providing financial support that assists hundreds of charitable organizations, and actively participating in Detroit’s downtown revitalization. Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA) is a financial services company strategically aligned by three business segments: The Commercial Bank, The Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Follow on Facebook:, Twitter: @ComericaBank and Instagram: @comerica_bank

About Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) was founded by renowned Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter in 1994 as a research and strategy organization that today is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on urban economic growth. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents. 

Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is a tuition-free executive leadership training program designed by ICIC to help business owners in under-resourced communities build capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability, and employment. ICCC is uniquely designed to provide three critical elements for sustainable growth: Capacity-building education, one-on-one coaching, and connections to capital and capital providers. To learn more, visit


KEYWORDS: Detroit, Detroit small businesses, black-owned business, GM, General Motors, National Business League, Comerica Bank, ICIC, ICCC, Executive Education, access to capital, mini-MBA program

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