Two Detroit-Based Businesses Win $100,000 From NEI

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A worker at J&G Pallets. Courtesy Photo.

Detroit’s J & G Pallets and Trucking and Highland Park’s Sherwood Prototype will each receive $100,000 awards to grow their businesses.

Both companies were small business winners of the $100K Challenge for the first-ever NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth. New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, hosted the challenge.

Since the NEIdeas Challenge inception in May 2014, NEI has awarded more than $500,000 to 36 existing small businesses.

“NEIdeas is focused on existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park to grow the ‘been-ups’, the businesses who have really been a staple to our community for years,” said David Egner, NEI Executive Director.

The two winners were chosen from a pool of almost 600 applicants, and they represent ingenuity and innovation of Detroit’s small business sector. J & G Pallets and Trucking and Sherwood Prototype were selected based on several factors, including neighborhood impact, financial standing, growth opportunity, and business history and mission.

“As we continue to see Detroit’s small business network grow and thrive, we are thrilled to recognize companies such as J & G Pallets and Sherwood Prototype who have created jobs and helped stimulate Detroit’s economy for over 20 years, and better connect them to resources that will help them grow,” said Egner.

Meet the Winners


J & G Pallets and Trucking is a Detroit-based manufacturing business owned by Geraldine Wooten and operated in conjunction with her siblings Jake Dee and Rebecca Givhan. The company is getting ready to consolidate its operations into one building to increase efficiency. J & G Pallets and Trucking plans on using the NEIdeas grant to help with the renovations of their new location, hire eight new local employees, and buy a new automated wood pallet maker.

SherwoodPrototype_EricPaxton, Mayor Windom, Dave Egner and Fred Pinkston

Sherwood Prototype is a metal prototype manufacturing business in Highland Park. Founded in 1991 by Peter Paxton, the company is now operated by five siblings of the Paxton family. Sherwood Prototype specializes in sheet metal parts, stampings, and assemblies for multiple industries. Last year, the company began to expand its equipment and facility. With the NEIdeas grant, they plan to continue their growth by adding welding equipments, employee certifications, and marketing strategies to their business.

The Challenge

NEIdeas is aimed at celebrating existing businesses in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck and rewarding the ones that display the best ideas for growth. The two-tiered challenge was open to small business at least three years or older, and it offered a total of $500,000 in cash rewards.

There were two types of rewards available: $10,000 for 30 businesses grossing under one million dollars annually, and $100,000 for two businesses that gross between one million and five million dollars annually. The $10K Challenge winners were announced in October. For a complete list of winners, visit

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