Entrepreneurs Feed Detroit’s Extreme Makeover

My column on Detroit-area start-ups, “Entrepreneurs Feed Detroit’s Extreme Makeover,” is running in today’s USA Today (follow the link in this sentence for the online version). Detroit has obviously gone through a lot in the past few years (decades?) But here’s the fascinating thing: the destruction, or at least massive restructuring, of an industry can free up an incredible amount of resources for other ventures. If you’re looking to start a business, a blank slate like Detroit has a lot going for it. First, real estate is comically cheap (the listings appear to be missing a zero). Second, there are a lot of skilled people who are thrilled for new job opportunities, and because there is no longer the opportunity cost of turning down a stable job at an auto company, they are more willing to work for start-ups. Third, as anyone who saw that Eminem “Imported from Detroit” Super Bowl commercial knows, there’s a lot of civic boosterism in Detroit — a desire to see new ventures succeed (even another restaurant on the same block, something most New York proprietors would not want!) Obviously, there are still big problems, like the proposal to put 60 kids in each high school class. But creative destruction is a fascinating thing, and I tried to show that in this column.

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3 thoughts on “Entrepreneurs Feed Detroit’s Extreme Makeover

  1. There is something to be said for eagerness to work and the entrepreneur’s need for cheap — or at least flexible work force. Our company recently was awarded a contract to do work and in looking for hires I was really surprised how many people admitted to not having work full-time but were unwilling to consider our job offers calling them too low — we offer a wage that allows us to win the contract by being lowest bidder — pretty standard — but some folks have an idea of not being interested in a job bc it is beneath them. How to get round this is a big issue for entrepreneurs… in that for example, finding someone who is hard worker who works in your budget and can grow a job or jobs with your company as you grow —

  2. @Cara: I’m not employed full-time but the first $50,000 I earn would go entirely to taxes and childcare. I think many of us are “marginally attached” to the labor force in this way. For your interviewees, perhaps they are holding out for a full-time job. Working for you could prevent them from interviewing for one.

  3. good point, taxes are a big detterant to work .. as is childcare especially for more than one kid, and unfortunately women are the ones whose salaries are often compared to the childcare. health benefits are another reason why some folks hold out though they are disappearing in the full-time workforce as well.

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