Monday, November 17, 2008

Rock City, Remixed

One of my wife's friends, and a former coworker, recently moved back to Detroit from DC. He was a native and wanted to get back to his friends and family. Unfortunately, he had developed some peculiar habits while back east. For instance, some days on his walk home he would stop in at a local bar and sit and read for a while. It was just a mellow moment and made a nice transition between work and home. Sometimes he would just have a pint and read a magazine, other times he would read a novel.

When he tried this back in Detroit someone walked by while he was reading and called him a fag (sorry for the language, but it is a true story and I see no reason to sugarcoat what happened). This type of comment is sad and wrong on many levels but what I really want to point out is how hard it makes life on young people in the area. He's adapted again to life in Detroit, but from what I gather it remains a love/hate relationship. Despite many wonderful universities, my impression is that most people don't stick around the state if they have an option; brain drain is not just a problem in developing countries.

Now that Michigan is on the verge of losing GM, the state cannot remain competitive if it cannot keep its best and brightest. Tolerance is one of the keys of attracting and retaining creative class workers and if our friend's story is just one of many examples, as I believe it is, then the state has lots of work ahead.

The state needs new ideas and it needs to build on what it does well. For instance, David Miller points out that: "Detroit has a great history in music. Detroit is positively situated near the border. There are tons of talented engineers/designer in and around Detroit. The University of Michigan is a global research powerhouse." All well and good, but these resources are currently being squandered. So it's a good thing that David is switching roles from studying campus entrepreneurship to actually sponsoring his own business plan competition:
With all the calls for ‘pre-packaged’ bankruptcy for Detroit and/or $25-$50 billion in government funding for the US auto industry to ‘recreate itself,’ it is clear the US auto industry needs a need business plan.

From dealership strategy and product offerings to brand consolidation and alternative fuels research/vehicle production, the US auto industry needs a completely new business plan. The window for ideas needs to be wide open.

Because of that, this blog is announcing the 1st Annual Save Detroit Business Plan Competition. Plans (video or document/pdf/ppt) can be sent to campusentrepreneurship / @/ Deadline is December 15, 2008. See full info, rules and eligibility requirements (which are subject to change) below. Thanks for entering!
Check out Campus Entrepreneurship for more details.

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