Detroit Goes Green: 4 Ways Sustainability and Reinvention are Booming in The Motor City
By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern
Sometimes it’s known as Motown, The Motor City, or Hockeytown; others refer to it as the 313, Rock City, or “The D”. And 688,701 people call it home. There are many names to call the city that has been at the forefront of what financial crisis looks like in America, but only one way to get the real story – see it for yourself.
People often forget that Detroit has long been a leader in innovation. It was the first city to pave a concrete road, broadcast a news radio show, and introduce techno music. Whether it’s maintaining traditions such as the country’s only floating post office or striving to hold the title of the Midwest’s sports capital, Detroit is a city that has prevailed hardship to the highest degree, only to bounce back and become an entrepreneurial hub where reinvention is the name of the game.
On May 5, Michigan Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship will take 40 students to explore Detroit, seeing a
side of the city that they’ve never been exposed to before. They will see startups that revolve around making Detroit a cleaner city to live in, to ventures making high quality products and clothing. No matter what cutting-edge entrepreneurship you’re in search of, D-Town is the place to find it.
Detroit’s startup hub is making big changes and going green. With small innovations to save energy and large movements to disrupt wasteful habits, the citizens and city alike are ready to make Detroit greener and cleaner. See how Detroit Goes Green: 4 Ways Sustainability and Reinvention are Booming in The Motor City, and apply NOW to join us on DTrek!
1. Green is the name, and Green is the game.
A lot of people have an “idea” of what Detroit looks like. It’s smoggy, dirty, graffitied, or whatever else they may have seen on RoboCop. But times are a’changing. The city of Detroit is getting greener every day with the help of places like The Green Garage. The Green Garage is actually three things: a community of people dedicated to Detroit’s sustainable future, a business enterprise, and a building located in Midtown Detroit. The Green Garage aims to build networks between the people of Detroit, all while developing triple-bottom-line businesses that are healthy for the environment, economics, and community.
“We rent office and workshop space to these businesses who often work together in what we are calling a co-working community. Currently, there are over 50 businesses-in-residence. Our business incubator helps grow businesses
naturally. We also house an Urban Sustainability Library whose mission is to connect people to the resources they need to live more sustainably,” says the Green Garage crew.
2. Bikes > Cars…of course!
Did you know that if 5 percent of New Yorkers commuting by private car or taxi switched to biking to work, they could save 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year?
We’ve seen it in Ann Arbor, but it’s happening in cities all over the country. Cars are cool, but bikes are the real deal.
Good for the environment, good for your health, and good for Detroit Bikes! Whether you’re riding recreationally or competitively, Detroit Bikes provides a cycling experience for all.
“Our mission is to encourage cycling by making an accessible, enjoyable bicycle while continuing Detroit’s legacy of quality manufacturing and design,” says Mike Gentile, Detroit Bikes Communications Director.
So ditch the car, and take a ride to explore a city where they invest in the best…
3. Accessibility is here: Food, healthcare, transportation, and more.
With big names like Uber and Twilio on their roster, it’s no surprise that TechStars is a seriously envied accelerator. However, it’s not always about the “big names.” Accelerators in Detroit, like TechStars, are supporting companies
that might not have grabbed national attention yet, but should. From education technology to healthcare, The Motor City is quickly becoming breeding grounds for startups that will be key in transforming the city and contributing to the continual progression of America. Sphero, one of TechStar’s most successful ventures, aims to help promote education through an easy to control robot. Even though Sphero is now currently run out of mainly Colorado and Hong Kong, their successful ed-tech journey truly took off during their time in Detroit.
Invest Detroit, a local acceleration and funding organization, hosts teams such as the CHASS Center, a community-based, not-for-profit organization formed to provide accessible and affordable health care and support services to all
residents of the community, with emphasis on the under served African American and Latino populations.
Technology to environment to community building, these entrepreneurial ventures are making accessibility a key tenant to what defines Detroit, and empowerment of others an essential means of reaching success.
4. Reinvent industry, reinvent the city.
Whether it’s your community of bike riders, your Wednesday book club at Green Garage, or your cohort of startups in one of the city’s many startup accelerators, Detroit is a place that allows people to innovate to the highest degree. The strength of Detroit’s entrepreneurial network is unreal, drawing in a plethora of ideas, people, and already existing business to help the city continue to flourish after years of hardship and a continuous struggle to make the city the titan in American manufacturing it once was.
Growing companies such as Shinola, are doing more than just producing luxury analog watches. Shinola is redefining the manufacturing process. Shinola has focused their time and energy into the people that make and
consume their products. Shinola has aimed and succeeded in leveraging the manufacturing process into a group of actions that empower and educate those who otherwise haven’t had the opportunities to be successful in the workplace.
Detroit Venture Partners has created a killer entrepreneurial network through innovative guidelines to their partnership, with rules such as: “This ain’t a morgue! We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Have fun! Embrace the power of humor.” Or “Do more with less. Drive efficiency through higher thinking. Always find a better way. Constraints create stronger solutions.” By creating a better balance between work, life, and happiness, DVP is transforming the process of entrepreneurship by incorporating qualities of humor, teamwork, and genuine creativity.
These leaders are just a few in the effort to focus on reinvention in Detroit, making the city better than it’s ever been before and leading the way in breaking boundaries in industries across the country. Instead of “bringing back” or “copying” a process, they improve it. That is what makes this new era of the Motor City unique, and exciting to be a part of.
Detroit is the place you want to be, explore, and understand if you want to be on the cutting edge of
entrepreneurship. If you’re ready to see the city like you never have before, apply to DTrek today! Applications close April 14: apply here.
Join us for a day of exploration, education, and fascination: Detroit is waiting for you!