Is Detroit a Good Place for Business?

According to the 2012 U.S. Census data, the City of Detroit is home to more than 62,000 small businesses.  It seems there’s a new business opening on a regular basis across the region and the momentum appears to be emerging.

And as I’ve thought about the entrepreneurial and business ecosystem here, a couple of questions emerge:

Is metro Detroit a good place to relocate a business?  If so, what’s the “state of this region” when it comes to attracting newcomers looking to grow their businesses?

Glenn Stevens, Executive Director, MICHauto, Detroit Regional Chamber, says, “It was not that long ago that Detroit and Michigan had a global perception, and in many cases reality, that we were a City, Region and State that was the “rust belt” and would never revive.”

But over time, the perception continues to evolve and change.

He continues, “Today’s reality could not be farther from that perception. While we have our challenges, there is a collective focus that is synergized to address what we need to do to continue to make this a place where companies and people with ideas from around the world can come to find opportunity, live, work, and play.”

Stevens also points out “the business climate, cost of living, quality of life, access to talent, and the unique and special combination of culture and spirit of our people make the region and state more than a potential destination for startups and businesses to locate here.”

How does this region compare to others?

Justin Robinson, SVP, Business Development, Detroit Regional Partnership, cites a large labor pool and workforce of approximately 2.65 million people meaning this region’s workforce is larger than 28 other states.  He cites the following:

  • The current workforce and talent pipeline are becoming more technology-oriented. Because the future of auto/mobility now involves so many new technologies, this region is attracting non-traditional automotive companies for investment opportunities.
  • It’s home to the largest and fastest growing engineering clusters in the US with more than 80,000 engineers currently employed and more than 6,000 engineers produced annually through our colleges and universities. This represents a 26% increase in engineers employment over the last five years.
  • And Detroit is still the undisputed leader in automotive with 19 OEMs and 96 of the Top 100 supplier to North American having a presence here.

In recent years, several businesses have moved here from other parts of the country, including Ferndale-based Bollinger Motors moved from mid-state New York.

Bollinger Motors, which builds 2-door B1 prototypes, started in 2015 and relocated to metro Detroit in 2018.  According to CEO, Robert Bollinger, the company wanted to be closer to the automotive industry’s epicenter, vendor support network and talent for potential new hires.

And since moving here, the company has increased its workforce from six employees to twenty nine.  While still in its pre-revenue phase, the company is continues to enhance its infrastructure and is expected to achieve its longer-term and sales growth goals.

“Everything we needed was based in the Detroit-area. Since moving here we’ve hired dozens of engineers and support staff all from Michigan.”  He continues, “We need to hire hundreds more, so we’re in the right place.”

The bottom line is Bollinger’s company has reaped benefits since being here and would not have experienced the level of growth and hired talented people if it had gone elsewhere.

Bottom line, now is a good time to give this region serious thought.

If not now, when?  The time is now.


Mark S. Lee President & CEO, The LEE Group, a Plymouth-based, strategic consulting firm.  You can hear him “In the Conference Room”, Sundays, 11am – 1pm, on 910am.  You can also hear “Small Talk” podcasts at