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Growing Detroit’s Startup Ecosystem

Crain’s Content Studio

Support to local, small, and midsize businesses will help grow Southeast Michigan. That’s according to Dynamics of Detroit’s Startup Community, a session hosted by the William Davidson Foundation on Thursday, May 30 at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Panelists, including New Economy Initiative’s Pamela Lewis, Endeavor Detroit’s Antonio Lück, and Vectorform’s Jason Vazzano, offered their insights in a conversation moderated by William Davidson Foundation’s Darin McKeever.

Lück cited the findings from “Southeast Michigan’s Competitive Advantages in Entrepreneurship,” a report the William Davidson Foundation commissioned Endeavor to conduct on how entrepreneurs can grow their companies and others can help.

“The community has capacity for much more improvement,” he said.

Lewis said one barrier to growth is that too often people think only about tech companies or small neighborhood businesses when they think of entrepreneurship.

“Sometimes the high-scale group gets lost in the shuffle. It’s important to know they are adding to the economy in a significant way,” she said, naming Art Van Furniture, Amway, and Bartech Staffing as examples. “They all started small. We need to make the link toward the value of supporting small neighborhood businesses so they can be on that pathway to becoming large growth businesses. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Forty-six percent of employees work in sectors expected to decline or grow slower than the labor force.
  • Businesses created by local entrepreneurs reinvest a greater share of their sales within their communities.
  • Southeast Michigan has about 20% more high-value entrepreneurial companies than the rest of the country, Lück said.
  • The region would increase local GDP by more than $5 billion annually if it created 60 new larger, high-value, entrepreneurial companies.
  • There should be more economic development strategies that support existing high-value entrepreneurial companies and increase their numbers.
  • Entrepreneurs should focus on creating quality over simply doing more.
  • Startup leaders should build networks with founders of larger, higher-growth startups.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference.