Once home to the innovations of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, American Electrical Heater Company and General Motors, the New Center area breathes new life into Detroit, Michigans’s entrepreneurial spirit.
In April 2004, the partially-renovated Chevy Creative Services building designed by architect Albert Kahn, opened its doors to Detroit’s start-up community as TechOne. The TechTown concept for an urban, mixed-use research and technology park began in the 1990s, with Irvin D. Reid, president of Wayne State University.
The renaissance of Detroit’s tech industry and subsequent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) job creation would not have been possible without the partnership between Wayne State, General Motors, and Henry Ford Health Systems, in addition to the support from invested stakeholders, including but not limited to, New Economy Initiative, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and Wayne County EDGE. TechTown also boasts a heavy-hitting board of directors.
With 250 companies, TechTown is the world’s largest business incubator providing a variety of programs and services tailored to individual needs. In addition to business seminars, workshops, and networking opportunities, TechTown provides business coaching, branding, marketing, and strategic planning through THRIVE, for new startups, and SOFTLANDINGS, for international companies looking to relocate to Detroit. TechTown has also had measurable success with its professional development talent programs for mentors, interns, and executives in transition.
TechTown facilities include mailboxes, cubicles, office space, and laboratories with flexible lease options equipped with wireless internet access, computer desktop and network services available, as well as access to conference facilities, large-scale printing services, and administrative services. In addition, TechTown has contracted third-party services to provide business resources and legal advice through Insyght and WSU Law School’s Small Business Enterprises and Nonprofit Corporations Clinic respectively.
CBS Detroit’s Matt Roush reports “since 2007, TechTown has provided support to 647 companies, which have created 1,085 jobs.” In 2011 alone, active and graduate TechTown clients brought in $52 million in revenue. The success of TechTown is due to strong partnerships and dynamic leadership. According to TechTown President and CEO, Leslie Smith, “Detroit, we are in our halftime huddle. We’re in the locker room making adjustments.” This is just the beginning.
While urban planners have created a 12-block master plan for TechTown 2020, TechTown Champions continue to engage and advise new Detroit startups. Do you have any adjustments to recommend to TechTown?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.