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The 'Build to Scale' Program Awards Grants To TechTown Detroit, Automation Alley

(CBS DETROIT)- Huge federal grants have been awarded to programs that fuel innovation one of the awardees is Techtown, right here in Midtown Detroit.

A visit Thursday from the US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo came with great news for tech-based entrepreneurs.

"50 organizations from 26 states will receive grants totaling $36.5 million under the 2021 build to scale challenge," said US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo

The grants which are administered annually by the EDA aims to accelerate tech entrepreneurship by increasing  inclusive access to business support.

This year TechTown Detroit received a $400,000 Capital Challenge grant that works to increase capital and startup in underrepresented communities.

"Particularly for a primarily African American City to have this kind of support is crucial," said Marlo Rencher, Director of Technology based programs at TechTown Detroit.

"This grant is about identifying and training and supporting 200 new angels that are women and people from black and brown communities because we know that if we can augment their networks that that capital will get to the entrepreneurs who need it the most," said TechTown CEO Ned Staebler

Staebler says minority and women aspiring entrepreneurs often do not receive the same investment opportunities as other groups, therefore this grant that will expand the pool of angel investors is critical.

"Its really critical because it lets us know that our voices have been heard," Rencher said.

Automation Alley in Troy received the Venture Challenge grant, that will go toward digitizing manufacturing in Michigan

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