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Commerce Design Refresh Grant


The Commerce Design Refresh Grant is a $20,000 grant offered to commercial small business owners in Detroit to support the cost of interior design upgrades. The design process doesn’t stop when a small business opens its doors. Many owners see opportunities to strengthen their business through design choices they didn’t consider or couldn’t afford the first time around. Business owners can choose to work with their original designer or connect with a new designer in the Detroit Design Network by pitching  a vision for an update or change to their space in this application. One winner will be announced at the Commerce Design Awards Ceremony on Thursday, August 13, 2020. 

This grant is made possible by Bank of America. 

Who Can Apply?

This grant is open to any small business owner that has applied for a Commerce Design Award between 2018-2019, whether or not that business ultimately won an award. Business owners must submit their application jointly with a professional designer and can work with either with their original designer or connect with one through the Detroit Design Network.  The application can be submitted by the business owner or designer, but both parties must sign off.  

*Please note this does not include applications that do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a Commerce Design award.

Who is eligible?  The award program will recognize projects, submitted jointly by the business owner and design team, that have been completed within the City of Detroit (including Highland Park and Hamtramck) within the last 5 years, that are currently operating and open to the public.  Projects that are temporary, still under construction at the time submissions are due, or part of a national chain are not eligible for this program. Past Commerce Design Award winners and applicants may apply.    

How can I spend the money?

The grant is intended to support the cost of interior design upgrades or improved design integration (interior/digital/graphic) that enhances the design experience for customers in the space. 

The grant can cover the cost of 1-3 of the following interior design services such as:

  • Visioning
  • Renderings
  • Graphic elevations
  • Graphic floor plans
  • Graphic ceiling plans
  • Coordination of vendors

The grant should also cover the cost of implementing the recommended design interventions with furniture and materials including, but not limited to:

  • Furniture
  • Lighting
  • Paint / Super graphics / wall treatment
  • Branding and signage
  • Millwork
  • Flooring (i.e. tile, epoxy, etc.) 

This grant is intended for interior design upgrades only. If you are looking for support with exterior design upgrades, consider applying for assistance through Motor City RE:STORE

How do I apply?

Fill out this form between February 10-April 13. As a business owner, you must identify a designer and work with the designer to prepare the application. If you don’t have a designer identified and need to connect with one, email Cydney Camp (ccamp@designcore.org) and join us at our March 12 Design Salon to meet with members of our Detroit Design Network. 


The timeline for submission is as follows:

  • Feb 10   Application Opens 
  • March 12  Design Salon - Meet & Greet with Designers
  • April 13  Round 1 Applications Due
  • July 19   Round 2 Applications Due
  • August 10-12  Round 3 Jury Visit 
  • August 13   Winner Announced at Commerce Design Awards Ceremony

Please note that there are three application rounds:

Round 1

Applicants submit a brief application sharing what they would do with a $20,000 Design Refresh grant using words to communicate their vision and how it would help to strengthen their business. Applications may be prepared by the business owner or designer but must have input from the designer to ensure the proposal is feasible for the budget. Applications will be reviewed and scored by the 2020 Commerce Design Awards jury.

Round 2

Selected applicants will be invited to provide a more detailed proposal including sketches, mood boards, and images to communicate their vision visually. Applicants must also provide an estimated budgets, timeline, and other details that convey a clear and realistic proposal. Applications may be prepared by the business owner or designer but must have input from the designer to ensure the proposal is feasible for the budget. Applications will be reviewed and scored by the 2020 Commerce Design Awards jury.

Round 3

A limited number of finalists will be selected for in-person jury visits during the week of August 10. The winner will be announced during the Commerce Design grants Ceremony on August 13. 

Terms and conditions

  • The grant funds are intended to cover the cost of design services and implementation for the proposed project at the proposed location. Funds may not be used at another location.
  • Funds must be spent within a one year period from the time the grant is awarded. Grantees must provide quarterly updates on progress to Design Core.
  • Any material changes to the proposed project scope or timeline must be communicated and approved by Design Core.
  • All funds will be paid by Design Core directly to the designer to cover the cost of design services and  implementation.
  • Business owners are expected to work with the designer who collaborated on preparing the application barring unforeseen circumstances. If the business owner believes it is necessary to change designers, they must contact Design Core to communicate the circumstances and justification for changing designers. Any new designer must be approved by Design Core. If a business owner switches designers mid-project, they are obligated to pay the first designer for their time and will not receive additional grant funds above and beyond the $20,000.00 award.
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