How place impacts entrepreneurship

We set out with a few simple questions: how are business startups going from the idea phase to real action and implementation? How does place -- the physical location of this conversion of ideas into action -- have an impact on entrepreneurship? And where can we track this relatively new phenomena as it happens?

For this special report we picked Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids and asked our writers to dig into these questions.

In Detroit, social entrepreurship is spreading like wildfire, but nowhere is it more visible than at downtown's M@dison building, a property developed by Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball franchise and, perhaps most important to this story, a principal in Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that funds start-up and early-stage technology companies in the city.

In Ann Arbor, we tightened the focus on where entrepreneurs really get social, and found it was at places like Cafe Zola and Tech Brewery. This in vivid contrast to where traditional dealmakers have met -- and still do in many places -- private country clubs. We were looking for inclusivity not exclusivity, and we found it.

In Grand Rapids, our search led to developer Sam Cummings, a pioneer in historic renovation and adaptive re-use of underperforming properties.

All three are examples of how entrepreneurial innovation is helping change the urban fabric of Michigan cities.
Our partner on this project is the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, or MSHDA.


Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Jon Zemke.

Jon Zemke is a news editor with Model D and its sister publications, Metromode and Concentrate. He's also a small-scale real-estate developer and landlord in the greater downtown Detroit area.