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Contest Aims To 'Drive' Social Change In Flint With Business Ideas

The Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge's aim is to draw out ideas for sustainable solutions that will positively impact communities around the state. Michigan Corps' will concentrate efforts on the Flint community through the Drive Flint prize, which will help an entrepreneur with a cash grant and a place in Michigan Corps' impact investment fellowship program. 
FLINT, MI – A contest aimed at finding a solutions to unemployment, poor nutrition and low educational performance challenges entrepreneurs to “drive Flint” to the answer. The “drive Flint" prize is part of Michigan Corps’ “Michigan social entrepreneurship challenge,” to come up with long-term solutions to the state’s social challenges, the nonprofit organization said in a statement. The goal is to discover ideas that are having a positive impact on the Flint community, said Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps. “The competition is focused on the advent of ventures that enhance the quality of life in the community.” The contest also is offered in Detroit.

Garlow said a group from Flint that includes Jason Caya, Heidi McAra, Dean Keipert and Kenyetta Dotson reached out to Michigan Corps. Although the Flint foursome wanted to offer a similar program on their own, Keipert said it made sense to team up with Michigan Corps. "We believe in what's going on in Flint," he said, adding that he moved his 3Sixty Interactive marketing company from Fenton to Flint. "We continue to want to grow the business population in Flint. "Drive Flint would like to reach $15,000 in financial contributions", Keipert said. Those who are interested in donating can visit

Flint’s winner will get a cash grant and admission to Michigan Corps’ social impact investment fellowship and entrepreneur support services. The fellowship is a four-month training that readies entrepreneurs for investments of more than $50,000. “Flint is full of grassroots entrepreneurs seeking prosperity, civic and community change,” Mayor Dayne Walling said in a statement. “The creation of the “drive Flint” prize is truly groundbreaking, as it gives all entrepreneurs who are passionate about Flint’s future an opportunity to share their ideas, connect with support resources and a community of fellow innovators.”

Those interested in the effort can visit and look for the button that says “submit your idea.”
People have until April 30 to register for the competition and until May 30 to submit their ideas, Garlow said. There is no cost to enter competition. Garlow said Michigan Corps will provide training resources and opportunities for anyone who enters the competition. The initiative drew nearly 300 submissions last year, including someone who took an abandoned warehouse in Detroit and created a hydroponic farm that provides fresh organic produce there. Another example was woman who opened her own coffee business, and became a means to help women move from welfare by operating micro coffee carts.

Dominic Adams is a reporter for The Flint Journal. Contact him at or 810-241-8803. Follow him on TwitterFacebook or Google+.

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