Welcome to 2015!

Detroit experienced positive signs last year–from establishing a solid financial foundation to generating momentum which is now being recognized nationally. For example, I just returned from New York for the New Year and, while on a recent flight, I noticed a wonderful article in Delta’s Sky magazine under the heading “Detroit’s Next Chapter”. The article recognized Detroit’s legendary status as an iconic America city, but also discussed its future role as it continues to redefine itself in 2015 and beyond.

The Motor City continues to emerge as a small business incubator, a leader in technology/innovation and is faxt becoming a model of post-industrialization urbanization–as evidenced by:

    • Continued re-population of downtown Detroit with new residents and businesses resulting from small and large business development,


    • Quicken Loans continuing to expand its building portfolio through acquisition and having vendors and suppliers to relocate downtown from across the region and state,


    • Ilitch Holdings continuing to demonstrate its commitment by investing in expanding its Little Caesars corporate headquarters and investing in a 50-block entertainment and residential district–being dubbed the “Detroit District,


    • Foreign investors taking a good, hard look at buying and developing land in and around the core-area and beyond,


    • Downtown becoming a hub for small business development as evidenced by the number of entrepreneurs and other small businesses establishing their roots in the Lower Woodward area, and


    • Midtown continuing to attract funding and investment for housing and business opportunities.


  • And businesses, individuals and citizens who have remained–even in this city’s darkest hour.

Despite these successes, many challenges remain as we head into the New Year. As the city continues to focus on its transformation from a manufacturing hub to an emerging, entrepreneurial city, I believe the region needs to continue to focus on:

    • Providing a safe and welcoming environment for entrepreneurs to start a business and thrive,


    • Improving basic city services and an enhancing the overall infrastructure,


    • Neighborhood development where economic development and job creation are infiltrated across the entire city and not just in pockets,


    • Offering access to capital and relevant financial incentives for those considering starting or expanding their business while providing adequate training opportunities for those who have never started a business,


    • Re-branding Detroit. Nationally, the perception of the region is negative and there’s an opportunity to change the dialogue about this region—in a positive way—however, various factions from around across the region and city need to work and communicate in a collaborative and open manner,


    • Regional cooperation where there is open, transparent and thoughtful conversation based on dignity and respect and not accusations and non-flexible thinking, and


  • Identifying those who have actually relocated to Detroit and have them share their experiences.

For example, I received an email from reader Jon Gregory, Third Media Marketing, who shared, “…I could have started my business anywhere, but I chose Michigan because I’m a huge fan of the underdog and I know, without a doubt, that Michigan never left…“

He continues, “I moved to Detroit from Texas two years ago and started my marketing agency here because I believe in the future of Detroit. The city has people like you that make a conscious effort to promote the great place that Detroit really is. I really appreciate what you do, keep it up! You could easily write a whole series on Detroit entrepreneurship.”

And, in 2015, this blog will continue to focus on Detroit entrepreneurship. The point is Detroit has many believers such as Mr. Gregory and it’s time we continue to have those from in and around Detroit to share their stories. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and/or business owner and would like to tell your story as part of Small Talk, please email me at mark@leegroupinnovation.com. I would like to talk to you and help you share your story.

Thank you for you continued support for Small Talk and here’s to a prosperous year of growth and success!

Happy New Year!