Entrepreneurship's Greatest Challenge: Rebuild Detroit
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Lots of rust belt cities boast of a burgeoning start-up economy, but entrepreneurship may face its greatest test in Detroit, a city battered by the auto industry's struggles. Start-ups are growing, what with cheap downtown office space, abundant talent, and "Made in Detroit" grit. The city has a dozen venture funds, and high-rise loft apartments beckon to software engineers. But downtown dwellers live among a soaring homeless population, and new tech companies sit down the road from three casinos, part of the city's regrowth strategy. The city is plagued by abandoned buildings and an exodus of residents. This gallery showcases that ongoing economic tug of war.
A 30,000-square-foot warehouse designed for artists and entrepreneurs. One tenant is Veronika Scott, whose Empowerment Plan hires homeless women to make coats that double as sleeping bags.
Rent: 10 cents to 20 cents per square foot
Test Case: Developer and designer Phillip Cooley sees it as a study of how the foreclosure crisis can positively affect communities.
Quicken Loans founder and homegrown businessman Dan Gilbert's entrepreneurship accelerator, with 37 start-ups in its portfolio.
Number of Local Ventures funded: 18 per year
No Time to Lose: Bizdom hosts three accelerator sessions annually.
Employs 3,000 people. With three casinos, Detroit is the fourth-largest casino market in the country.
Originally General Motors's design headquarters, the building sat empty for years.
Back to Work: In 2012, start-up manufacturer Shinola leased 30,000 square feet. Shinola will make 1,000 bikes and 45,000 watches in 2013.
Once one of the most notorious abandoned buildings in the country. A local consortium started a $53 million residential redevelopment in 2010, creating loftlike spaces for young professionals.
Occupancy: 100 percent
In Demand: Five days after the building’s opening, all 124 apartments were leased.
The 2012 World Series contenders play at Comerica Park.
Roaring Back: The Tigers drew 3.03 million fans in 2012--the ninth-highest attendance in Major League Baseball.
Dan Gilbert's $12 million building renovation. The location was once home to a glorious theater that was razed for a parking lot. The building reopened last year.
Square feet: 50,000
Number of Ventures: More than 30
Welcome Back: One venture in the space is Chalkfly, co-founded by two brothers who ditched gigs in D.C. and Chicago to return home to Detroit. "The entrepreneurial renaissance over here brought us back," says co-founder Andrew Landau, 27.
The mobile appmaker counts Chevrolet and Domino's as clients.
Employees at 2011 Launch: Four
Employees Today: 30 plus
Inspired: As at Google, employees spend 20 percent of their time on creative projects, says co-founder Paul Glomski.
In recent months, Detroit police have been accused of rounding up homeless people in the popular tourist neighborhood, forcing them into vans, and dropping them off miles away.
Mean Streets: There are an estimated 19,000 homeless people in Detroit.
Playing at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings are one of the NHL's most popular--and winning--teams, with 21 straight playoff berths.
Dominating downtown and an imposing symbol of the auto industry's grip, the Ren Cen was financed by Ford but has been GM's headquarters since 1996.
Square Feet: 5.5 million
Office Occupancy: 95 percent
Long Road: Despite the auto bailout's success, Michigan has regained only a fraction of the 800,000 jobs it shed from 2000 to 2010.
Since 1965, home of the North American International Auto Show, the industry's annual display of pomp and glitz. A $300 million renovation is underway, designed to lure more conference business to Detroit.