Popular Mechanics: The Motor City Business Startup Boom

Andy Didorosi built the Detroit Bus Co. from scratch.
Andy Didirosi of Detroit Bus Company
Andy Didirosi had a hunch in 2012. He felt that his hometown, given up for dead, was about to start a new life. Didorosi, 23 at the time, leased an old industrial building near the city's northern limit. He posted a notice on Craigslist, hoping people would come to his big empty building to share tools and ideas, make stuff, and maybe start a small business or two. "The response was incredible," he says. "Overnight we had enough tenants in here for it to make financial sense."

The 22,000-square-foot facility he named Paper Street attracted graphic artists, jewelry-makers, Web designers, carpenters, metalworkers, a music publicist, a spice-maker, and a motorcycle mechanic. They paid as little as $99 a month for a work space; Didorosi added to the rental income by refurbishing meat slicers and other equipment from bankrupt supermarkets and selling the appliances to new businesses. The money allowed him to buy three Blue Bird buses and start a jitney service to supplement city bus routes. Now, in 2025, Didorosi runs the thriving Detroit Bus Co., and 20-plus small businesses rent space at Paper Street.

Didorosi and Paper Street are emblematic of the DIY ethic that helped bring Detroit back. "It's about starting a creative revolution instead of an industrial revolution," he says.

A few blocks from Paper Street, a nonprofit called i3Detroit is full of new and refurbished tools and machines—CNC mill, a plasma metal cutter, a 3D printer, an oscilloscope, welding torches, a machine shop, a woodworking shop, and a video-editing studio. Members pay $39 or $89 per month, depending on their level of use, to make furniture, solder circuit boards, build bicycles, and concoct robots. The exchange of tools and ideas, and energy, is free. "I think of us as a pre-business incubator," says Eric Merrill, a computer programmer and i3Detroit's CEO. "If you had an idea for a widget, you used to have to pay a machine shop $10,000 to fabricate that widget. Now, for a few hundred bucks, you can make it here and see if it works. From there it's easier to get backing."

In 2012, that prevailing philosophy led Inc. magazine to dub Detroit Startup City. It earned the name because of the proliferation of small-business incubators. Among these was TechShop, a national network of member-based workshops. It was another iteration of a model created by TechTown at Detroit's Wayne State University in 2003. Detroit native Clover McFadden is a TechTown success story. After graduating from college-prep Renaissance High School on the city's northwest side, she earned a degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and dreamed of becoming a doctor. But on a return trip to Detroit she discovered Bizdom, which grooms aspiring entrepreneurs at TechTown. McFadden enrolled, developed a business plan, and successfully pitched investors. Her business, Circa 1837, produces and sells clothing adorned with school logos of the nation's traditionally black universities, such as Howard.

Click HERE to read the full article on Popular Mechanics! 


Click HERE to learn more about WDET and Operation: Kid Equip's Books For Kids!


The Project:

My name is Noah Stephens. I am a native-Detroiter, photographer, essayist, and founder of The People of Detroit Photodocumentary. I started TPOD in April 2010 as a counter point to national and global media fixated on everything gone wrong in the storied home of American auto manufacturing. Even amid the city's post-industrial turmoil, I consistently met industrious, interesting, progressively-minded people in my everyday life as a Detroiter. I created TPOD to give these people a place in the media conversation about Detroit. In doing so, I hoped TPOD would inspire Detroit-focused investment and residency.

Since it's inception, the project has receive a bit of attention. Portraits from the project have appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek and Fast Company. This year, the project received a grant from CEOs for Cities and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Last year, a creative director in China saw the project online and hired me to photograph an eight-portrait ad campaign for McDonald's Corporation in Shanghai.

The Food Desert: Food Availability in Cities is an extension of TPOD. The mission of The Food Desert is to photograph every grocery store in the city of Detroit, the produce selection therein, at least one patron of each store, and the path that patron takes to get to the store. In doing so, this project will create an unprecedented visual survey of the food landscape in a post-industrial city commonly regarded as a food desert.

This visual survey will explore diet in urban communities and that diet's relationship to chronic illness in those communities. This exploration will inform public policy and cause people to think more thoroughly about the affect diet has on long-term health.

Click HERE to contribute to 'The Food Desert: Food Availability in Cities' Kickstarter Project!

Click HERE to check out Noah's 'People of Detroit' website!

Metro Detroit home prices increased a robust 6.2 percent in July from a year earlier as the region's housing recovery gained steam.

Home prices have risen year-over-year for the past 13 months, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index report released Tuesday. National home prices increased 1.2 percent in July, compared with the same month last year, resulting in the second straight year-over-year gain after two years without one.

The Detroit area has posted above-inflation home price increases for the past 11 months, according to Case-Shiller data. The three months prior to July experienced stronger jumps than originally reported, with gains of 5.2 percent in April, 8 percent in May and 7.4 percent in June. Case-Shiller receives updated information throughout the year that causes the price data to be adjusted upward or downward.

The price improvements came as home sales have jumped 13 of the past 14 months through August in Metro Detroit, according to Realcomp II Ltd., a Farmington Hills multiple listing service.

"Case-Shiller is simply catching up with the meaningful improvement in real estate values which began in early 2012," said David Sowerby, portfolio manager for the investment management firm Loomis Sayles in Bloomfield Hills, in an email.

"The combination of an improved economy and better housing valuations have been key catalysts. In addition, higher stock prices in 2012 have strengthened household net worth, adding to the improved affordability of homes."

In July, a Metro Detroit house valued at $100,000 in January 2000 would be worth nearly $76,000. It's the highest index reading since January 2009, when prices were sliding toward a bottom of $67,230 in April 2011.

Steady price increases and record-low mortgage rates are helping drive a housing recovery in Detroit and across the country.

Click HERE to read the full article from the Detroit News! 


The Greening of Detroit, through a $200,000 grant from Bank of America, is putting unemployed and underemployed Detroiters back to work.

Created in 2009, through a “Pathways out of Poverty” grant from the federal government, the GreenWorks workforce development program is designed to provide unemployed Detroiters with valuable job training and certification in the green industry. Bank of America became a funding partner in 2011, helping 71 previously unemployed Detroit residents get the skills they needed to find full-time employment.

Over the past three years, the program has been very successful.

To date:

  • 137 adult trainees have graduated with certificates that include the Greening of Detroit Landscaping Course completion certificate, First Aid/CPR training and certification, and Landscape Industry Certified (LIC) certification. 
  •  All 137 graduates have completed a 10-hour landscaping safety course conducted by Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) certified instructors. 
  • 21 percent of the trainees have obtained a chauffer's license through the program. Four of the trainees participated in The Greening's apprenticeship program, resulting in full-time employment as Greening staff members. 
  •  71 of the trainees have been placed into full time jobs that pay on an average $11.75 an hour

Click HERE to read the full article on DBusiness! 
Photo Gallery: Living for the CityThe Lions will officially kick off their new Living for the City initiatives this week with events at Eastern Market, Ford Field and Detroit Lions Academy

LUNCH WITH THE LIONS AT EASTERN MARKET AND FORD FIELD
The first Lunch with the Lions event will take place at Eastern Market and Ford Field on Tuesday (Sept. 25) featuring Lions’ offensive lineman Rob Sims, students from the William Beckham Academy in Detroit and select girls from the Detroit Lions Academy who will be hosted by the Detroit Lions Women’s Association.

Lunch with the Lions is a program that will provide vouchers for fresh foods from Eastern Market and cooking lessons at Ford Field to students at the Detroit Lions Academy and Detroit Public Schools. Lunch with the Lions will be held every Tuesday, September 25 through October 30.< Br />
Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Joe Nader, as part of the overall Detroit Lions/Eastern Market partnership, will teach participating DPS students how to make delicious meals from local ingredients purchased at Eastern Market.

“Giving back is the heart and soul of who we are. It is an honor to partner with the Lions and Living for the City to share our knowledge by teaching kitchen skills and helping kids learn about healthy eating,” said Nader.

The mission of the Detroit Lions’ partnership with Eastern Market is to improve food systems by engaging Lions fans, local leaders in communities and schools, parents and other stakeholders to deliver healthier foods to Detroit youth.

“BACK TO SCHOOL JAM” AT DETROIT LIONS ACADEMY
On Tuesday (Sept. 25) Lions’ defensive lineman Nick Fairley will help kick off the Living for the City initiative by hosting a “Back to School Jam” at Detroit Lions Academy.

During the event Fairley will provide students with backpacks and school supplies for the new school year as well as talk to them about the importance of education and staying in school. The event will also feature local artist “Brilliance,” who will perform a series of songs including hit singles “One Day” and “Where Did I Go.”

“I wanted to put together a local event for underserved youth during the back to school season,” said Fairley. “Deciding to do it with Detroit Lions Academy was a natural fit. Speaking to this group of students about the importance of school and staying on the right path will hopefully make an impact on the start of their school year.”

Detroit Lions Academy is a strategic partner of the Lions’ Living for the City initiative, and offers Detroit students an opportunity to learn and achieve in a structured, caring and safe learning environment that can address their individual learning needs. Through the Lions’ support, students receive additional social-emotional support due to severe challenges that have impeded their progress.

COMMUNITY GARDEN BUILD AT DETROIT LIONS ACADEMY
On Saturday (Sept. 29), The Lions along with Eastern Market Corporation, the Detroit Lions Women’s Association and Detroit Public Schools will team up to build a sustainable community garden at Detroit Lions Academy.

The goal of the garden is to expand teachers' access to real-life laboratories to teach students about healthy eating, nutrition, and concepts around growing food while increasing the schools' access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This ensures that Detroit Lions Academy students are able to learn in a real world context relating to agriculture. Exposing students to the science behind a productive garden, and encouraging science experiments in the garden also fosters student-interest in Science as a hobby or career.

Additionally, the program assures that more fresh food from farms and gardens will be used in the Detroit Lions Academy cafeteria. Through the gardens, students also will gain a greater understanding of the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables, become ambassadors of healthy foods and will be encouraged to share information with their families.

ABOUT LIVING FOR THE CITY
Living for the City is the philanthropic program of The Detroit Lions. Its goal is to support transformational efforts that improve the well-being of metro Detroit’s underserved communities. Living for the City focuses on sustainable health and wellness initiatives and community development. Living for the City supports organizations that pursue integrated approaches to physical fitness, healthy eating, housing, land use and environmental planning, public transportation, community infrastructure, and aligned workforce opportunities. For more information, please visit www.detroitlions.com/community.
'Imported From Detroit' Chrysler Finally Moves 70 Employees Into Swanky Detroit Offices

In Detroit this morning, 70 Chrysler employees took up residence in the newly named Chrysler House. It's a historic office building owned by Cleveland Cavaliers and downtown Detroit land mass accumulator Dan Gilbert.

He renamed the Dime Building for Fiat's American branch, which has never had offices downtown in its 87-year history. (If you think "House" is an odd thing to call a building, it's a common thing in Europe, and of course, we use it for pancake places and furniture stores all the time.)

The Chrysler employees are getting the top two floors of the 23-story building on Griswold, which was opened in 1912, a dozen years before Walter P. Chrysler officially founded the car company. It's one of the most significant buildings in the city, and was once Detroit's tallest building. The property was designed by Daniel Burnham, the Chicago architect whose famous slogan was, "Make No Little Plans" (certainly a motto with which Sergio Marchionne can relate).

Chrysler hasn't disclosed the price of the transaction, but rents in the building generally average $19.50 per square foot, plus utilities.

The group that gets to work downtown includes 70 employees from the Great Lakes business center staff and sales people, as well as other corporate functions. There's also a large training room, a state-of-the-art board room that Marchionne will put to good use, and a kitchen. Back when this was announced in April, Marchionne said the offices were meant to be "another step on the path to reviving a great city."

They certainly give Chrysler more cred in using "Imported From Detroit" as a corporate tagline, since its American headquarters is in Auburn Hills, a 30 minute drive (on a good day) north of the city. Before that, Chrysler was based in the Keller Building in Highland Park, which abuts the east side of Detroit.

Click HERE to read the full article on Jalopnik!
dvp_611.jpg

Where I live in the Bay Area, there's a certain glamour to Detroit. It's the heart of what Bruce Sterling termed "dark euphoria." "Dark Euphoria is what the twenty-teens feels like," Sterling said. "Things are just falling apart, you can't believe the possibilities, it's like anything is possible, but you never realized you're going to have to dread it so much."

Detroit is the place where Bay Area types imagine an urban tabula rasa, a place where enough has gone away that the problems of stuffing millions of people into a small region can be reimagined, redesigned, remade.

So, when we arrived in Detroit, I was excited to see what was actually happening on the ground, to see what was there outside the square frames of Instagram.

Anywhere you go in Michigan, people tell you about the Madison Building. Down by the Tigers' new stadium and the Detroit Opera House, extremely successful local businessman Dan Gilbert bought and rehabbed a gorgeous old building. The roof is so nice and fancy that you can rent it out for a wedding reception and relax in chairs that cost more than many houses in the metro area.

But the real attraction of the building, for us, was that it's the home of Detroit Venture Partners, the startup hub of the area. DVP is run by Josh Linkner, a Detroit native who founded and eventually sold ePrize, an online promotions platform. It's on the same floor as the formerly futuristic Detroit People Mover, a monorail which loops endlessly around the still mostly deserted downtown.

Linkner's office space contains his own portfolio companies as well as those of Bizdom, an accelerator that's also funded by Dan Gilbert. There's no doubt about it, as Linkner put it, "We're the dominant early stage tech VC in this region."

Click HERE to read the full article from Atlantic Cities! 


Click HERE to purchase your tickets! 




  • Cheese Dream Concrete Cuisine
  • Debajo del Sol
  • El Guapo - Fresh Mexican Grill
  • Green Zebra Truck
  • The Mac Shack
  • Ned's TravelBurger
  • Peoples Pierogi Collective
  • San Street [Cart]
  • Treat Dreams
  • Urban Grounds
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
top