This article is sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, as part of the Tomorrow Tour.
As Detroit reinvents itself, the tech, innovation and entrepreneurship communities are leading the way.
“It’s important for the nation and the world at large to see how we can not only breathe new life and ideas into an area, but we can also fill gaps created when public- and private-sector drivers of growth are distressed or limited,” said Jordan Twardy, executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association.
The Eight Mile Boulevard Association works to break down barriers and unite stakeholders. From transit access to crime fighting to infrastructure improvement, the public-private nonprofit provides a conduit through which tech and innovation can be scaled up to a regional level.
“The tech, innovation and entrepreneurship community will reach its full potential in Detroit if the spark it has lit in the Central Downtown/Midtown/Techtown core can spread and scale its impact to encompass Detroit’s neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs,” Twardy said.
To help take a step in this direction, the Tomorrow Tour stops in the Motor City on March 10. The national event series from Comcast NBCUniversal and Technical.ly aims to explore and document how technology and innovation converge to strengthen the city.
The free evening roundtable and networking event will connect local entrepreneurs, technologists, policymakers and new thinkers for discussions about the future of innovation and entrepreneurship. Following the networking happy hour, angel investor, Inc. columnist and CNBC contributor Kelly Hoey will present the keynote.
The evening concludes with a panel discussion on Detroit’s position in national entrepreneurship trends. The panel will include Jessica Robinson, implementation manager at Techstars Detroit. She’s currently completing MBA-level coursework with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Often as entrepreneurs, we’re always so busy with the day-to-day operations or business growth,” said Amanda Lewan, cofounder of Bamboo Detroit, the city largest coworking community, and editor of Michipreneur.com. “It’s important to make room for new conversations and to listen. We’re all in this together.”
“The Tomorrow Tour,” Twardy added, “will help shine a light on this work in Detroit, inspiring others but also helping reaffirm for those working hard here that their efforts are making an impact.”
Here are five other innovators fueling Detroit’s reinvention:
1. Anya Babbitt, SPLT
The ridesharing app SPLT, headed by founder/CEO Anya Babbitt, aims to make your dreaded daily commute a little more tolerable. With its “social search” feature, drivers can pick up other people heading in the same direction.
2. James Feagin, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
A longtime partner of the city government, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation supports existing businesses through services like help with financing, workforce development and assistance with licenses and permits. The nonprofit also works to bring new companies and investments to the city through relocation and expansion services. As an outreach consultant, James Feagin handles program design, strategy and communications for small business programs.
3. Brian Rudolph, Banza
With traditional pasta lacking any hefty nutritional value, coupled with the fact that many people lose all sense of portion control with the dish, Brian Rudolph set out to create a healthy alternative. The solution? He developed Banza, a pasta made from chickpeas that contains 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber per serving.
4. Tifani Sadek, FoodLab Detroit
Good, healthy food should be a reality for all residents. To accomplish this task, FoodLab Detroit — a community of food entrepreneurs — runs programs such as Detroit Kitchen Connect, Food for Thought and FoodLab BASE. Tifani Sadek, founder and managing attorney at Sadek Legal Services, is one of FoodLab’s founding members.
5. Stella Safari, Ponyride
Ponyride, where Stella Safari serves as director, offers inexpensive space to social entrepreneurs so they can focus on production rather than worrying about how they can make rent. More than 25 organizations use the coworking space in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.
Tomorrow Tour Detroit will be held March 10 from 5:00-7:30 p.m. at TechTown Detroit (440 Burroughs St.).
Register here for the free event.