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Giving Compass' Take:
• In this Pacific Standard story, Anna Clark fights the image of Flint, MI as a site of intractable poverty. She highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of Flint's residents, including numerous success stories of businesses thriving post-water crisis.
• What are the most impactful steps a philanthropist could take to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners in Flint?
• Flint's rebound will continue to rely on the entrepreneurship skills of its residents. To learn how K-12 schools can cultivate these skills and empower their students to contribute to a local entrepreneurial economy, click here.
From GM plants to population figures to public services, the story of Flint, Michigan, is often told as a litany of loss. Less attention is given to what is alive in Flint—and, in fact, what is growing and hopeful. Right now, that includes its culture of small businesses and entrepreneurship.
The water crisis ... contributed to a national image of the city as a site of intractable poverty. But it failed to staunch the purpose and pride of the city's small business community. Indeed, over the last few years, the city has quietly scored a number of economic development wins.
A $37.9 million Hilton Garden Inn hotel is due to open in a historic downtown building in 2020. Lear, a company that makes vehicle seats, recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Buick City, a long-vacant brownfield once occupied by GM ... The Berston Field House, a beloved community athletics center, was revived as a non-profit, while 2017 saw the reopening of the Capitol Theatre, a landmark venue that sat vacant for nearly two decades.
Flint's attempt to transition from what many see as a decaying company town to a hotbed for start-ups might look improbable, but it's in keeping with the town's history, says Tyler Rossmaessler, director of economic development for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. "Since the [General Motors] days ... we've had a vibrant entrepreneurial community."
Rossmaessler points to local resources like the 100K Ideas program, the Factory Two makerspace, and the Ferris Wheel, a co-working space that opened in 2017 in a long-vacant downtown building. The University of Michigan's Flint campus has an entrepreneurship and innovation institute and hosts a summer camp for enterprising young people. The City of Flint runs a six-week course for start-up dreamers.
Read the full article about entrepreneurship in Flint by Anna Clark at Pacific Standard