As we work to rebuild Detroit in the 21st century, it is critical that we look to new people with new ideas — entrepreneurs — to help drive that rebuilding.
Detroit was built by entrepreneurs, going all the way back to Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac on through Henry Ford, Billy Durant and the other visionaries who turned Detroit into the Silicon Valley of the early 20th century. As we rebuild Detroit, it is people of similar vision and energy who are going to lead the way.
That is why we at Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) make an intentional decision to support efforts that help entrepreneurs get a start in the city through initiatives like Endeavor, helping small business owners become big business owners, or Hatch Detroit, which provides support to start-up businesses.
The small businesses of today are the big businesses of tomorrow. When there’s robust civic and institutional support of small business, we remove barriers to retaining talent in our city. Small businesses have a real stake in the progress of the communities they serve and are critical to urban revitalization.
It at times seems hard to believe that it has been 25 years since we at S3 opened our doors as a small startup business in an office on Woodbridge just east of the Renaissance Center. And, in all honesty, I have to confess that I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to grow a business. I certainly never thought S3 would be where we are today — a business with revenues of more than $250 million that provides more than 2,700 jobs worldwide.
But I had a belief that if we could create an environment that nurtured people and gave them an opportunity to not just show what they could do, but to identify new talents they didn’t realize they had, we would be successful.
If we are going to build a new, vibrant Detroit, it takes more than money and technology. It takes people with character who have a vision and who have the courage to strike out on their own. And it takes people who are looking to build relationships and who proceed not out of a sense of entitlement, but with a goal of earning the trust and respect of the community in which they are devoting their time, effort and money.
I see that sense of vision and that same commitment to hard work and integrity in so many young entrepreneurs in our city today. They believe in Detroit and they believe in their own vision. It is up to us to provide the environment and support they need to achieve their vision.
That is why we at S3 try to identify young entrepreneurs to who we can provide encouragement and support. And it is why we helped four Detroit-based entrepreneurs present “Building Bridges to Small Business,” a pop-up shopping experience at the Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island during the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference. They are a very diverse group of businesses that have one thing in common — a vision for success and a commitment to Detroit.
These businesses are:
■ The Peacock Room, a women’s apparel boutique located in the Park Shelton Building;
■ The Cyberoptix Tie Lab, which was named one of the top 10 performing handmade artists on Etsy.com, and whose items can be found online and at over 250 retail locations;
■ Sweet Potato Sensations, a bakery café located on Lahser in northwest Detroit;
■ Rebel Nell, a jewelry company started with the sole purpose of employing, educating and empowering disadvantaged women in Detroit that repurposes broken concrete chips of graffiti, and transforms them into unique, wearable art objects.
You can find each of them right here in Detroit. And I’m sure if you look you’ll find other, equally deserving young entrepreneurs who are also deserving of your support — young people with vision and energy and a commitment to realizing their own dream while making their own unique contribution to our rebounding city.
I hope you’ll take the time to patronize each of these enterprises. And I hope you’ll find your own entrepreneur and lend them your support. You never know when you’ll find the next Henry Ford.
Cynthia J. Pasky is president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions Inc.