Let’s talk Detroit.
As you may have read, we (as in our entire organization from top to bottom) are like the pig at breakfast when it comes to Motown:
Or as those who play Texas Hold Em’ like to say:
- Because we live here and work here (and we’re here, anyway).
- Because if we (as in all of us in SE Michigan) don’t create a safe, lively, exciting, technology-focused urban core that brings hope through new (and old) entrepreneurial companies that serve as a magnet for young, smart professionals, the vast majority of whom have made crystal clear they want the experience of living, working and playing in a cool downtown oozing with OPPORTUNITY, then just say “sayonara” to an entire generation of would-be “Detroiters” and “Michiganders.”
And this time, we can turn out the lights for good. (If the electric company doesn’t already do us the favor because we won’t be able to pay our bills.)
It’s not only a generation we are trying to save from fleeing to the likes of Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Boston or South Beach (God forbid!).
It’s THE generation that will and is already creating the most amount of wealth in the shortest period of time of any generation since Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal men walked the earth.
Don’t believe me?
Groupon was created in the fall of 2008. That’s less than 36 months ago or after most of you signed your last car lease.
In other words, your current automobile (hopefully, an American one) is older than this little company.
Well, they will likely be public in less than six weeks or so at a “little” 25 BILLION dollar or more market capitalization.
That’s a higher market value than each of these “big” companies:
- Southwest Airlines
- DTE Energy
- Pitney Bowes
And bigger than the COMBINED market value of Penske, Compuware, Comerica, Lear, Masco, and Goodyear.
In less than three years.
And not only is Groupon creating thousands of new jobs, but they are also creating an entrepreneurial, urban-based, downtown hotbed of spin-off companies and other start-ups near their headquarters located in:
Where were two of the three founders of Groupon (who together control over 30 percent of the company) born and raised?
Detroit (and its close suburbs).
Where did they go to college?
University of Michigan.
Who paid for their college?
Partially you, me and every other state of Michigan taxpayer.
Why did they move outside of Detroit and SE Michigan?
Because, back around the turn of the century, downtown Detroit simply was not the place that any Internet- or technology-focused entrepreneur was going to set up shop. This was the same time Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell were beginning down their entrepreneurial paths creating the start-up companies that eventually led them to the launch of Groupon.
Did Detroit and SE Michigan miss out on this one?
Only to the extent that you believe hyper-growth, 25 billion dollar, e-commerce, entrepreneurial, job-creating machines that will further sprout an entire
eco-system of additional start-up, new economy businesses around it should be located in the downtown center of your city.
There is absolutely nothing more important than former rust-belt, manufacturing-dependent, major urban cities like Detroit and Cleveland to become attractive, exciting places for young, eager, wealth-creating entrepreneurs to embark on their business journeys.
How tragic is it that some of the highly talented people who are now doing exactly that in other cities and states not only grew up in the cities that need them most, but were educated by the public universities that the taxpayers of our state partially pay for?
We must create an environment that keeps them here.
That environment is a downtown that is hustling and bustling with young technology-focused people who can find cool lofts to live in, abundant retail and entertainment options close by, safe streets day and night, and most importantly, numerous
start-up and growing entrepreneurial companies where opportunity is endless and creative minds are free to collaborate and do what they do best:
That’s why we are investing heavily into downtown Detroit (and Cleveland as well).
So much is happening. More and more great people, investors and businesses are joining the initiative to build something very special downtown every single day.
It’s happening fast folks. And it’s happening now.
Detroit 2.0 is real.
We can’t afford to lose the next Groupon, created by our own kids coming out of our own universities, to some other town.
How do you measure that kind of loss (or gain) on a spreadsheet?!
Although there have been some major announcements and excitement over the past year or so, the best is yet to come for downtown Detroit.
My gut is we haven’t even scratched the scratch on the surface.