Detroit isn’t known for being a bustling startup hub, but it’s trying to be. A few years after being battered by the Great Recession, Motor City is going to great lengths to lure more entrepreneurs. This month alone, it’s hosting three big startup events.
Home to trailblazers such as Henry Ford and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Detroit has hardly been devoid of innovation. It’s just hoping to attract and produce that kind of innovation more consistently. “With the downturn of 2008 and 2009, there was a more concerted effort to take all the talent that we have and help them by creating the knowledge and infrastructure that exists for entrepreneurs,” says Maureen Krauss, senior advisor at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Auto manufacturing continues to steer Detroit’s innovation, with an average of one auto patent issued per day for naerly 50 years and counting, says Krauss. The volume of patents is so high the U.S. patent office opened its first satellite office in Detroit in 2012.
The city is also gaining attention from big players in the startup world. In 2013, Goldman Sachs chose Detroit as one of the cities for its 10,000 Small Businesses program, which helps business owners gain skills in negotiating, marketing and managing employees. Detroit also has its Motor City Match program through which it provides $500,000 in grants each quarter to support small businesses and startups in the area.
It doesn’t hurt that the cost of living in Detroit and its surrounding areas is cheaper than in most large cities. In that way, an entrepreneur hoping to open a restaurant is going to have an easier go of it in Detroit than in New York City or Los Angeles. “Companies that start in the community and nurtured in the community stay in the community,” says Krauss. “Our goal is to provide the support to these startups so they can succeed and grow in our community.”
Putting its money where its mouth is, Detroit is hosting three major startup events this month including Detroit Entrepreneur Week, Detroit Techweek, and Startup Week.
Detroit Entrepreneur Week
On until Saturday, this week-long event is not only a celebration of the people who are starting or growing businesses in the Detroit area but also a treasure trove of resources for would-be entrepreneurs looking to get their ideas off the ground. The festival includes events, workshops and seminars designed to provide support for early stage and existing small businesses serving the city and neighboring areas. It’s also a venue for entrepreneurs to network and collaborate and advance the entrepreneurial momentum that is taking form in Detroit. It culminates on Saturday with an all-day Small Business Legal Academy event in which some of Detroit’s law firms and legal departments will provide legal advice and information to startups.
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Running until Monday, Detroit Techweek is a week-long event designed to help technology focused start-ups in the region. Techweek includes interactive workshops, hackathons, startup pitch competitions, educational seminars, a speaker series, tech job fair and the ability to network with other entrepreneurs in the area. The technology focused startup event draws not only entrepreneurs from Michigan but investors and technology companies looking to support the startup movement in Detroit.
This five-day event, running from May 21 through May 27, is designed to celebrate and support startups in Detroit. Led by entrepreneurs and hosted in the entrepreneurial spaces in and around the city, Startup Week brings together entrepreneurs to network, engage in hackathons, learn about the innovations driving the resurgence in the city and get advice and information on how to get a business up and running and more importantly growing.