Nearly 100 people packed Cliff Bells
last Tuesday for the first speaker series hosted jointly by Open City
and Model D. It was a natural fit for the two groups, considering the former helps facilitate opening small businesses in Detroit and the latter likes to celebrate such businesses.
The topic of the forum was "Location, Location, Location." As in, you want to start a small business in Detroit and want to know in which neighborhood would be best to set up shop.
The panel, which was moderated by this writer, was comprised of five experts in five specific neighborhoods. Each of them, who works for the non-profit community development corporation dedicated to that area, demonstrated passion for their own specific community tempered with a clear spirit of cooperation.
Michael Solaka of New Center Council
discussed some of the projects coming down the pipeline in his neighborhood, including the renovation of the park at the corner of Second and West Grand Boulevard and the rehabilitation of the Argonaut
into an expanded College for Creative Studies. NCC's annual CityFest was cited as an example of a major event put on by a non-profit that can generate excitement -- and dollars -- for a small business.
Down in Midtown, Sue Mosey was representing the University Cultural Center Association
. Mosey discussed some of the financial incentives available to small businesses interested in locating in the district as well as some less tangible manners of assistance, including navigating red tape at city hall.
Kathy Wendler from the Southwest Detroit Business Association
talked about the growing immigrant population that is investing in the community and the number of strong grocery stores, making Southwest an ideal place to locate a food business.
Food is also an obvious strong fit for Eastern Market, and Dan Carmody of the Eastern Market Corp
. encouraged those with a small idea to set up shop at the market on Saturdays to generate some buzz and test-drive a new product with a very low overhead -- as low as $60 per week.
Also on the small tip, Khalilah Burt of the Downtown Detroit Partnership
discussed how a smaller size space can work for a start-up -- like Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes, rocking out in just 48 square feet. The DDP's Clean Downtown
program means that businesses located in the Central Business District can expect clean, inviting sidewalks for their customers.
The next Open City will take place on March 17. Marketing is on the agenda.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh