Finally, early last week, something clicked and the big picture has become so much more visible. Instead of just research that seemed to disappear within our endless Google Drive folder, we’re creating drafts of infographics and outlines for our deliverables. It is exciting to be able to envision the product we can present to Build in a few weeks.
The staff members at Build are incredibly knowledgeable about small business and dedicated to entrepreneurship in Detroit. Not only do they each work full-time tirelessly to create and promote classes, events, and partnerships, but I continue to learn more and more about all the diverse things they do outside of Build. The director owns at least 2 other successful businesses, one is in a well-loved band, and another is a freelance graphic designer. In the midst of their crazy schedules and work/life balance, I hope to make a positive contribution to Build that also makes their lives just a little bit easier.
I am hoping that the economic impact study Ben and I are creating will have powerful results for Build. If produced and presented strongly, I’m anticipating it will allow April and Build Institute to leverage their success for further grants and publicity. The numbers we are gathering and sorting through are impressive and deserve more recognition. Unfortunately, as the 5 staff members work so hard to run all the day-to-day happenings of Build, there is little time to work on these longer projects that have a less tangible timeline and product. This is a common reality among nonprofit organizations, and there is often no room in the budget to hire professionals to assess the impact. Understanding past successes and failures is an essential step in effectively growing and moving forward. Although Ben and I are certainly not professionals, we plan to have enough confidence in our deliverable that it can be used for grant reports and new potential investors.
At a few of the events I have been able to attend through Build in the past 3 weeks, I have received eager hand shakes and remarks somewhere along the lines of, “It’s so great to see some young people in Detroit! What do you think so far?” During a lunch today with a business development manager at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, she was so excited to learn about our perception of Detroit so far and to positively influence our experience for the next 5 weeks. She, along with many others, have asked for our feedback with the hope that our experience can attract other young people to turn to Detroit for their future careers. In addition to helping out Build in the 8 weeks I am here, I can serve the community by returning to Connecticut and Duke with my highly positive portrayal of Detroit.