What Can Detroit Do? Innovate, Collaborate, Reinvigorate


Fifty-five years ago, as a young boy growing up on the Mississippi Delta, I had never heard of Paris, France, but I knew all about Detroit, MI. My adult cousins, Melvin, Earl, and Mildred lived there.  Detroit was their city of dreams and became, for us, a place of great possibilities.

Detroit did not come about due to magic and luck, but over time innovation, collaboration, and hard work made it one of the top five cities in America. Detroit, this historic, grand city, seeks once again to ignite the imagination of young minds as a place of great possibilities. I firmly believe that entrepreneurs and innovators will play a big role in creating a new Detroit with great possibilities.

How can 21st century entrepreneurs and innovators combine their talents and dreams to once again assemble innovation, collaboration, and hard work to reinvigorate Detroit and its economy?

1. Focus on the Pre-K-12 Education Corridor as Detroit’s Bottom Line

Infuse and ignite their learning process with entrepreneurial mindset lessons—the same lessons that sparked the innovative success that branded Detroit for more than 100 years.  Detroit’s youth are coming of age at the right time to think differently and creatively about providing value to others and for themselves.

2. Redefine and Expand the Concept of Citizen-Ownership

Entrepreneurs become successful in part due to their sense of ownership—their right to originate, participate, and innovate. They tend to have more answers than questions. They recognize and value their unique gifts as necessary and meaningful. We need this group to market this mindset to the ordinary citizens of Detroit so that they can think of themselves as the next innovative Henry Ford. Why not?

3. Reclaim Detroit’s Work Ethic for Future Possibilities

Solutions are usually on the other side of problems.  There are no solutions without people. This is the reality that drives the entrepreneur. People make things happen! Marshal the tools of the entrepreneur media to remind the citizens of Detroit of their historic strength and their present capacity. Challenge the chamber of commerce to market nationally—broadly and boldly—the people, their skills, and their abundant real estate for their future.

4.  Foster Connectivity among the Independent Silos of Excellence (ISEs)

The entrepreneurial mindset of innovation and inclusivity has the capacity to connect the past to the future and to create the new foundation needed for building a new Detroit.  Detroit’s reinvigoration will come about when all the great neighborhoods (ISEs) connect and embrace a new vision—one that is unselfishly crafted and future focused.

5. De-mystify Technology- It’s the 21st Century’s ‘open door’ to Future Possibilities

The chip has changed the world and will continue to do so. The entrepreneur and the innovator are well aware of this fact, but not necessarily the ordinary citizen. At the level of the ordinary citizen is the human potential needed to tap into possibilities heretofore not known. Detroit is about tomorrow and so is technology.

Clifton Taulbert is founder of the Building Community Institute, which leads professional workplaces in the process of building community as an investment opportunity. Taulbert’s book, “The Last Train North,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.Taulbert is also president and founder of the Freemount Corporation and a partner with the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative. He will deliver the keynote address at TechTown's FastTrac to the Future entrepreneurial workshops on Wayne State University's campus, May 24, 25, and 26. Follow @

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