This blog is based off of an article I recently read about Shinola and what it represents: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/opinion/joe-nocera-is-motown-getting-its-groove-back.html?_r=0
I chose to write about Shinola for two reasons. One, it’s just plain cool. I’m a big fan of bikes, and they definitely had some intriguing ones. Two, the store and its backstory really illustrate the trend of entrepreneurs moving into the city and starting small businesses. People from outside of Detroit are seeing the vast amounts of opportunity in the city, anywhere from low property values to high availabilities of labor.
To many, it may seem like these circumstances are the main reasons people are coming. For the majority, however, these seem to simply be a secondary benefit. Tom Kartsotis, founder of Shinola, described his decision to start here as a “philanthropic impulse.” This may not be the best wording, as I believe that a positive future for the city depends on working with Detroiters, rather than simply goodwill; nevertheless, it exemplifies the reason behind such entrepreneurs. They are coming to contribute first hand to the regeneration of the city.
All of these occurrences are fostering a sense of entrepreneurship as a whole. Detroit has become the fourth-largest city in the nation for minority-owned businesses and ninth largest for small businesses in general. Resources such as coworking spaces, idea accelerators, and funding opportunities are becoming readily available to a wide range of entrepreneurs, both local and nonnative. While Detroit is still known publicly as The Motor City, the name is gradually becoming synonymous with innovation. This trend is not only bringing in talented newcomers, but also providing many more opportunities to passionate citizens with the desire to contribute to Detroit’s future.
This sense of ingenuity is undeniably making a positive impact in the employment sector. The real difference, however, is the alteration of the mindset. People are openly proud of where they come from and live. I can’t tell you the amount of people who have told me to get out the “real story” of Detroit: it’s not as the media portrays. Yes, there are still massive amounts of change that need to come, but there other aspects that are much more worthy of coverage. Everyone sees what’s wrong- it’s the people taking charge and making a change that are worth watching. To throw in a couple of quotes, Jacques Panis, president of Shinola, said:
“I’m proud of what this company stands for.”
And Howard Thurman, an American philosopher and activist, said:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
To me, that’s why and how I see Detroit moving into its future. People are responding creatively to problems around them and creating an aura where people who seek to innovate are met with praise. It’s becoming a place where people can come and aspire. Where people truly have a chance to make their own life, and create a real change while doing it.