Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > Think Big: Attracting Young Professionals Goes Beyond a Job

Think Big: Attracting Young Professionals Goes Beyond a Job

December 18, 2023

Want to retain more Michiganders under 30 to live here long term? The state and Detroit Region need to further develop a startup community and mindset and engage innovative educational opportunities while also marketing its high quality of life, experts say.

Hajj Flemings, founder of business accelerator Rebrand Cities, says he looks at places like his frequent co-working space, Newlab Detroit, as an example of what Detroit does well — and what it could do more of to draw people ages 18- 30 to the city and state.

“It’s in the center of everything when it comes to people and activations,” Flemings said. “That’s something that’s going to draw and attract a lot of interesting startups and businesses. People today aren’t just settling for a job. We have to create an environment where people feel they can do great stuff.”

Flemings says that means the state and region need to think big — what could artificial intelligence, advanced tech, design and fashion as well as other emerging industries do if Michigan could support them?

“We can make more than just cars here. We could make sneakers, jewelry, anything,” Flemings said. “How do we reimagine what the future looks like? Let’s not do what we’ve always done. We have to start to make sure more people are at the table, that money is flowing, and opportunities are here.”

Creating an Environment That Appeals to Talent

When it moved its headquarters to Detroit more than 12 years ago, the Rock family of companies started to develop Detroit and Michigan as a whole as a happening place —it recruited companies, restaurants, retailers and events to Detroit, said Jim Livingston, Chief People Officer for Rocket Central.

“Our never-ending mission is to find a better way for every process and everything we touch, including Detroit. If it’s good, let’s make it great. If it’s great, let’s take it to an even higher level,” Livingston said. “Don’t settle for less. In fact, don’t settle at all. By focusing on making the area we work, live, and play into something great, we create an environment that attracts talented young professionals.”

Livingston calls the city’s revitalization “astounding” and a large reason why Detroit has become a popular hub for young professionals. Forbes recently ranked Detroit as number 14 on its list of top places for young professionals to live. Now, Detroit is home to more than 387,000 businesses, including 10 Fortune 500 Companies. In 2022, Startup Genome named Detroit the No. 1 emerging startup ecosystem globally.

“Detroit has evolved into a bustling city with a plethora of opportunities for young professionals to thrive in their professional and personal lives,” Livingston said.