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New Workspace to Draw Mobility and High-Tech Auto Startups to Downtown Detroit

In an effort to attract and connect more mobility-focused startups and other emerging high-tech, automotive-focused companies, the Detroit Regional Chamber, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and WeWork announced today the launch of the PlanetM Landing Zone. This first-of-its-kind space will serve as an environment where startups with connected and automated transportation technologies can connect with Detroit’s automotive and economic development network. Ford Motor Co. is the first automaker to join the partnership via its City Solutions team located on-site.

This initiative will be housed at WeWork’s Merchant’s Row location in Detroit. Located at 1449 Woodward Ave., it is part of a global shared workspace company with more than 160 locations in 52 cities and 16 countries. The PlanetM Landing Zone will occupy 40 to 50 workspaces with room to about 20 companies in the first year of operation. Currently, :DriveSmart, Spatial, SPLT and Sherpa Capital are tenants.

Selected companies will have access to WeWork locations globally and a direct connection to the MEDC through its PlanetM and Pure Michigan Business Connect program, which helps connect local and global purchasers to suppliers of Michigan goods and services. The Chamber will house staff members on-site who will provide services to these firms, that can help connect them to and grow more quickly in the market. Additionally, the PlanetM Landing Zone will provide connections to key automotive industry and service providers.

“Our region must be overly competitive in next generation mobility. To complete this ecosystem, we need to attract more tech pioneers and entrepreneurs to our region,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO for the Chamber.

The need for a soft landing zone became more obvious after recent fact-finding missions to high-tech markets active in the automobility space like Silicon Valley, Israel and the Netherlands. Early-stage firms in these markets are eager to access the North American automotive industry that is centered in Detroit, but they need assistance with not only identifying workspace but also connecting to partners, customers, advisors, economic development services and capital. The PlanetM Landing Zone will be a key hub to cultivate and deliver these services.

“The goal is to create a center of gravity for emerging automotive technology companies with the ultimate objective of drawing these firms into the community on a permanent basis. MEDC’s PlanetM program is predicated on customer service, and this concept allows us to provide that in a meaningful way, right away,” said Jeff Mason, CEO for MEDC.

“We are excited to work with the MEDC and the Detroit Regional Chamber to launch this initiative and support mobility-focused startups in Detroit. These companies are innovating in the industry that the Motor City has fostered from the beginning. In addition to continuing to work closely with the city’s startup, business and civic leaders to drive Detroit forward, WeWork is excited that this initiative will further establish Detroit as a thriving community for creators,” said Megan Dodds, Midwest community director for WeWork.

“SPLT is thankful to the MEDC and Detroit Regional Chamber teams for making the space for mobility innovators to work, co-create and excel together. The PlanetM Landing Zone has given our team the room to grow,” said Anya Babbitt, CEO and founder of SPLT. “We are certain that this place will be the cornerstone to the larger movement in new mobility technologies and the future of Detroit. First Techstars, now the PlanetM Landing Zone. We can’t wait to continue our journey in Michigan and beyond.”

“The landing zone fills an unmet need in our ecosystem, supports business attraction efforts, and is a major step toward driving density of activity. We look forward to increased collaboration with the state and regional partners to position Detroit and Michigan as the premier destination for high-growth companies,” said Aaron Turk, senior executive of strategy and business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

The ideal company for the PlanetM Landing Zone is a startup, either domestic or international, interested in bringing connected or automated technology into the North American automotive ecosystem. To learn more, visit www.planetmlandingzone.com.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit www.detroitchamber.com.

About PlanetM

PlanetM represents Michigan’s unique and vast ecosystem, connecting resources and opportunities for its consortium of members. Made up of private industry, government and institutions of higher learning, participants in PlanetM share the common goal of leading the development of smart solutions that will change the way people and goods are transported across all modes of transportation. To learn more about how Michigan is leading the transportation revolution or to become a member, visit www.planetm.com.

About WeWork

WeWork is the platform for creators. We provide beautiful workspace, an inspiring community, and meaningful business services to hundreds of thousands of members around the world. From startups and freelancers to small businesses and large corporations, our community is united by a desire for our members to create meaningful work and lead meaningful lives—to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Co-founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with over 2,000 employees.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.