Santa Fe, of course, isn’t the only city in the country facing hurdles in trying to rethink a dated business model. Last week, SFR attended the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual convention, hosted in an oft-cited king of failed American cities: Detroit. During the recession, the once-booming metropolis became synonymous with Great Depression-level unemployment rates, auto industry bailouts and high crime rates.

But while the city’s overall population declined by 25 percent between 2000 and 2010, during the same period, downtown Detroit reaped major gains in a category that Santa Fe might envy: a 59-percent increase in young professionals under 35. Santa Fe’s share of residents aged 20-35 declined from 19 percent to 16 percent during this past decade.

In order to cope with the influx of a younger workforce, Jeff Aronoff created D:Hive, a community and business hub in downtown Detroit that serves as a one-stop shop for young people in the city. As executive director, Aronoff assists them with job, housing and quality-of-life resources. Like many of Detroit’s other economic development initiatives, D:Hive, which formally launched last month, is funded primarily by a grant from a local foundation (in this case, a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Hudson-Webber Foundation). Foundations, supported largely by money from the once-booming auto industry, are still a mainstay in southeast Michigan.

D:Hive is located in downtown Detroit, where most of the city’s economic development is taking place. But it’s not always visible: Vacant skyscrapers and boarded-up storefronts still populate the city. Generally, Aronoff says, around 50,000 of the city’s roughly 700,000 total residents are young professionals. Much of the remaining population still experiences a low quality of life.

“A lot of development is clustered in small areas,” Aronoff tells SFR. “But you have to build in small areas before you can address all of your weaknesses.”

Some of those areas may be geographic; others are demographic. For instance, Detroit is building on an existing strength: its large immigrant population. In 2010, the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan commissioned a study that found that between 1997 and 2007, immigrants living in the area were three times more likely to start their own businesses than non-immigrants. Between 40 and 60 percent of all students in the Detroit area who are studying for advanced degrees in mathematics are immigrants, Athena Trentin, a program director at Michigan’s University Research Corridor, tells SFR.

The Global Talent Retention Initiative of Southeast Michigan, which Trentin leads, builds off that study by finding ways to retain international residents in Detroit. Immigration has large implications for the city’s tech industry, she says, which is the fastest growing in the nation.

Another economic development initiative, Hatch Detroit, resembles the recent business-plan competition held by MIX Santa Fe, but doles out more money ($50,000 compared to MIX’s $10,000 prize) and focuses specifically on retail businesses.

But in Detroit, as in Santa Fe, economic redevelopment efforts also have their particular challenges—namely, ensuring that every sector of a recession-hit economy is included in its recovery.

Click HERE to read the full article on SF Reporter (dot) com!

Hatch Detroit has announced it will accept applications for its 2012 retail business competition beginning June 1 through Aug. 1.

The contest is open to anyone with an idea for opening a retail business within the City of Detroit. This year, with support from Comerica Bank, the competition will continue to work toward building a strong community and creating vibrant and dynamic retail businesses in Detroit.

Applicants must provide a summary that describes their business idea and its potential impact on Detroit, as well as background for each team member. After all the applications are submitted Aug. 1, Hatch will narrow down the pool to 10 applicants and the public will vote on the $50,000 winner. In addition to the cash prize, the winner will receive a package of services including legal, marketing and advertising and IT support.

Finalists will also be exposed to potential investors, collaborators and the community at large. “We are excited to kick off the second year of Hatch Detroit. The ideas are endless and the opportunity for participants is even bigger this year with the help of Comerica Bank and the generous support they’ve contributed to fund the next winner,” said Nick Gorga, co-founder of Hatch Detroit. “Being a part of the contest helps inspire entrepreneurs to pursue opening a retail business in Detroit with community support.”

“Comerica is committed to supporting small businesses in the City of Detroit,” said Thomas D. Ogden, president, Comerica Bank-Michigan. “We hope that our investment encourages others to find creative ways to improve our region.”

In addition to the competition, Hatch Detroit plans to support retail businesses in several Detroit neighborhoods with grassroots improvement projects during the next six months. All applications must be submitted online. For complete submission guidelines and contest rules, visit www.hatchdetroit.com.

Hatch Detroit launched its inaugural competition in 2011 with overwhelming success. Hatch received more than 250 applications, and through social media and grassroots efforts, the public helped select the winner – Hugh, a home furnishings shop featuring classic bachelor pad style. Hugh received $50,000 in addition to a suite of donated services from individuals and companies to help the business “hatch” and thrive. Hugh will open in fall 2012.

Many of the 2011 finalists are also in the process of opening retail stores in Detroit. Hatch Detroit is a Michigan based 501(c)(3) organization that champions and supports independent retail businesses in Detroit through funding contests, education, exposure, and mentoring. Hatch Detroit was co-founded by Nick Gorga and Ted Balowski, Detroit natives who are passionate about the revitalization of the city and inspiring others in the community to create change.

Like a significant percentage of Americans, I waste huge amounts of time trolling various social networks. 99% of what I read is truly useless, stealing hours upon hours that I will never get back. But every so often I come across something that is worthy of sharing. Or, writing a Forbes post about.

Today’s nugget was this article about Detroit’s hiring market. As recent as three or four months ago, you might have expected to click the link and see news about yet another population retraction or spiking unemployment.

But, no. Not this time. Turns out 27% of Detroit employers plan on adding staff, compared to only 5% who plan on reducing. Those numbers are fifth best in the nation.

You read that right. Detroit ranks fifth in the nation for third-quarter hiring projections.

Nationally, Detroit is riding a wave of goodwill. Perhaps it started with Chrysler’s “Imported From Detroit” campaign a couple of Super Bowls ago. And who knows, maybe my film “Lemonade: Detroit” contributed in some small way toward shifting the dialogue away from pity and toward hope and optimism.

Whatever the cause, whatever the reason, Detroit is beginning to realize the potential it always knew it had. Potential the rest of the nation doubted was even there.

Backed by a resurgent automotive industry and a long line of companies moving all or part of their operations downtown (Chrysler did it. So did Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Lambert Edwards Public Relations, and countless small/entrepreneurial businesses), Detroit is now one of the best cities in the country to be a job hunter.

Click HERE to read the full article by Erik Proulx on Forbs (dot) com!
Here are some things that are not abandoned in
Detroit's handsome downtown.
Photo: Associated Press

On a solo bike ride along the fringes of downtown Detroit, gliding past the ghostly shells of buildings long since abandoned, two things occurred to me: One, these buildings are really spectacular. Two? I am riding my bike on the sidewalk. Something I could never do in New York.

The reason was simple enough. When touring a city of about 700,000 people that was built to hold at least 1 million more, you can go ahead and take all the space you need.

The streets may have appeared a little lonely at first, but when I did encounter people, they seemed extraordinarily cheerful and friendly. As I biked past total strangers walking their dogs, or chatting with their neighbors, they unfailingly looked up and waved, like we were in a small town. Maybe that’s the best way to sum up what I saw in Detroit. One part urban blight. One part something like buried treasure. And really, really friendly.

Detroit is not a place I had ever felt compelled to visit, but these days, it’s hard to open a magazine or newspaper without seeing yet another article on the Motor City. Some of them say it’s the end, almost reveling in its death, celebrating the abandonment. Others insist this is a town poised for a comeback, some say it’s already coming back and is being ruined by hipsters; still more don’t know what to think. Which is why I was here — I simply wanted to see this big old metropolis for myself.

On arrival, I did the same double-take most people seem to do when they get here: Detroit is one of the country’s most handsome cities, brimming with great architecture. Yes, some of it’s empty — like, say, the magnificent Michigan Central Station in Corktown, which hasn’t had a train pull out since the 1980s, but manages to remain one of the city’s premier attractions. (Imagine if Grand Central, designed in the same style by the same architectural firm, was abandoned; this gives you an idea of just how big and impressive a building we’re talking about.)

Click HERE to read the full story on the New York Post (dot) com! 
The Detroit-Warren-Livonia Metropolitan Statistical Area will be one of the strongest job markets in the country in the July-through-September third quarter, according to the quarterly Employment Outlook Survey from the Milwaukee, Wis.-based temporary help firm Manpower Inc.

From July to September, 27 percent of Detroit-area employers interviewed plan to hire more employees, while only 5 percent of employers expect to reduce staff. Another 68 percent expect to maintain their current work force levels.

That yields a Net Employment Outlook — the number that plan to add staff minus the number who plan to cut — of plus 22 percent. That’s the fifth best of any region in the nation.

“The employment forecast for the third quarter is considerably healthier compared to the second quarter of 2012 when the Net Employment Outlook was 10 percent,” said Manpower spokesman Eric Jones. “Employers also expect significantly improved employment prospects compared with one year ago when the Net Employment Outlook was 3 percent.”

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in the Detroit area in construction, manufacturing (both durable goods and non-durable goods), transportation and utilities, wholesale and retail trade, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and other services.

Click HERE to read the full article on CBS Detroit!
The Short Order: Chef Dave Mancini's Guide to Detroit 

The man behind Eastern Market's can't-miss pizza lists his summertime musts in the Motor City, proving that indeed, Detroit Lives

Photo: David Lewinski Photography 

Chef Dave Mancini Is Known For:  Running the show at Detroit's Supino Pizzeria, the best thin-crust pizza in a city overrun by thick crust pies.

Off The Menu:  You can find him sailing the Detroit River or Northern Michigan's Lake Charlevoix. 

Detroit In His Words: "I've lived here for 17 years, moving downtown for graduate school and I really loved it from the get-go.  It's not for everybody, and we do have many challenges, but there is a spirit here that is becoming more and more infectious.  The last few years have seen an influx of expat artists and entrepreneurs from all over and the mixture of creative energy from the folks that has been here with the new blood is making this a really exciting place to be right now." 

Click HERE to find out Dave's 12 'Detroit Summertime Musts' on GQ (dot) com!

Both the number of homes sold and home prices in the Detroit area rose in May from year-ago levels, according to the Farmington Hills-based real estate information firm Realcomp II Ltd.

The total number of residential and condo sales rose 11.4 percent from a year earlier, from 5,679 units to 6,325 units. The median sale price in the region jumped 21.2 percent from a year ago, from $66,850 in May 2011 to $81,000 in May 2012.

Homes were selling quicker compared to a year ago, with the average days on the market for a home falling to 84 days from 97 a year earlier. And the inventory on the market fell to 27,227, down 17.6 percent from 33,029 a year earlier. About 13 percent of the inventory (3,652) is comprised of properties identified as foreclosures. Another 22 percent of the inventory (5,897) is comprised of properties identified as short sales.

Click HERE to read the full article on CBS Detroit! 

On Saturday, June 16, Foster The People invites fans and local Detroit residents to join in on an afternoon of volunteering at The Heidelberg Project to support Detroit’s under-resourced community. From 9:30 to 4 p.m. volunteers will help transform the abandoned burnt homes on Mt. Elliot between Mack and Benson Street into artistic symbols of a bright vision for the future.

“We are thrilled to be selected as a volunteer destination on the Foster The Future’s Do Good Project tour,” said Amanda Sansoterra, “Our efforts will not only benefit the residents of the community, but show the neighborhood children that by doing something good it can foster a sense of pride in their community.”

In an effort to inspire fans to give back in their communities, Foster The People has created a Do Good Project for the second year in a row to benefit local charities along their North American summer tour.

“The response and commitment from our fans last summer was truly inspiring and beyond our expectations,” said lead singer Mark Foster. “This year we wanted to challenge the Do Good team to find unique ways to attract even more volunteers to make an even bigger impact in each city we visit.”

In response to the challenge, Do Good has scheduled a variety of volunteer projects, from school restoration initiatives to large-scale community art projects. The tour will continue across North America, ending in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, July 7. For more information on how to volunteer and for monetary donations, please visit www.fosterthefuture.com.


The Heidelberg Project is a 501 (c) 3 Detroit-based community organization designed to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. Our mission is to inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of their greater community. For more information, please visit www.heidelberg.org


Do Good, an initiative of Glue Projects, promises altruistic adventurism by bringing people together to help local causes in a fun and social environment. During each event, Do Good strives to create awareness for local causes, create community amongst volunteers and prove the power of working together to make a difference. For more information, please contact Rebecca Pontius at rebecca@glueprojects.com or visit www.glueprojects.com/DoGood.


Los Angeles based indie-pop trio, Foster The People, released their chart-topping, acclaimed debut Torches in May 2011. The album, which includes the 4x platinum single “Pumped Up Kicks,” catapulted the band into a whirlwind of successes leading into 2012’s GRAMMY nominations for “Best Alternative Album” and “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.” Foster The People is currently completing their second world tour this spring/summer. For more information on Foster The People visit: www.fosterthepeople.com

I am giving away 5 pairs of tickets to an advanced screening of the movie, "Your Sister's Sister" at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak on June 20th.

Please email me at positivedetroit@gmail.com.  The first five people to respond win!

Tickets can be purchased at www.brownpaperbagtickets.com keyword: Unscripted. Tickets will also be sold at the door.
Join the fun this summer as Downtown Milford hosts a variety of summertime events sure to fit the interests of everyone. The southwestern Oakland County destination sets the scene for live music, eclectic shopping and festivals galore.

“Downtown Milford has everything you need to kickoff the summer,” said Ann Barnette, executive director of Milford’s Downtown Development Authority. “Whether you want to shop in our stores, dine in our restaurants or enjoy some music in Central Park, Milford has a niche for everyone.”

On Thursdays, the place to be is downtown for the Milford Farmers’ Market. The market offers live music, cooking demonstrations, special events and of course Michigan-based farmers, producers and artisans. It runs from 3-8 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 18.

Center Street Park will be filled with music and art on the fourth Friday of each month. The Milford Downtown Development Authority and Huron Valley Council for the Arts will present Friday Night Live at the Center Street Park gazebo from 7-9 p.m. Concert-goers will enjoy free musical concerts and have the chance to browse works by local artists.

The series that began May 25 with rock and pop group, Expanse of the Unknown, will be followed by three other concerts, including: Multi-instrumentalist Gary Weisenburg on June 22, highlights of the Los Amigos Band on July 27 and a capella vocalists 4 GVN and the Perfect 5th on August 24.

Beginning June 7, music fans are invited to gather downtown at Central Park for the season’s first show of Milford’s Summer Concert Series. The series will bring live music into the downtown corridor at 7 p.m. Thursdays and continues weekly through August 23.

This year’s acts will include: Billy Mack and The Juke Joint Johnnies on June 7; Nick Palise and Sovereign Blues on June 14; Paisley Fogg on June 21; Motor City Brass on June 28; Dave Gerald on July 5; Steve King and The Dittilies on July 12; Wildfire Country Band on July 19; Jill Jack Band on July 26; Kimmie Horn on August 2 and Gemini on August 23.

New this year, the Milford Business Association will present Milford’s Summer Palooza! Mark your calendars for this three-day event, scheduled for July 13-15. Main Street, between Commerce and Liberty, will be filled with sidewalk sales Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event also includes face painting and inflatables for the children. The Main Street Grill will host entertainment and a beer tent Friday and Saturday night.

As August rolls around, Milford prepares for its annual summer bash, the Milford Memories Summer Festival. This year’s event, the 21st annual, is set to take over downtown from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from Aug. 12-14.

Milford Memories features Art in the Village, including artists and crafters from across the U.S. and Canada, a Civil War encampment, euchre tournament, hot pepper eating contest, beer tent and live music by bands like Gemini and The Icemen. Watch teams canoe an obstacle course down the Huron River blind-folded. Join in the One-Mile Fun Run or a 5K or 10K.