NOTHING Stops Detroit….

| Shelley Stern Grach

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A year ago, when we started our Civic Tech engagement in Detroit, I wrote (and continue to express my excitement) about all the great business and economic activity in my hometown. Last week, I had the honor to participate as a panelist and in workshops at Detroit Startup Week and the momentum is skyrocketing.

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Detroit Startup Week is a 5 day event, which offered over 150 speakers, 10 program tracks, loads of workshops, tours and chats about various topics related to entrepreneurship in Detroit—all for FREE. Because of the wide breadth of activity, the speakers and attendees ranged from Mayor Mike Duggan, Dan Gilbert, and Jamie Dimon to local coffee startups and hackers. Each was as important as the other—because all attendees shared a common vision—a stronger Detroit, based on economic development through small and medium business growth. There were over 2000 attendees and a tremendous amount of sidebar networking. The Goal: To help Grow the Detroit Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. There is no doubt that Detroit is on the mend after becoming the nation’s largest city ever to go bankrupt just two years ago. Mayor Mike Duggan discussed how the city is starting to turn around, betting big on small businesses, education and affordable housing. His measurement of whether the city is on the right track or not is whether the population is growing or declining. Let’s continue to watch closely as I think people are indeed moving back into the city.

WP_20160525_20_00_02_Rich (2) (002)Microsoft was delighted to help sponsor Startup Week…and don’t you just LOVE these T-shirts! As you look at the logos, you’ll see big names, small names…everyone pitching in as equals to bring education about how to start a business to as many people as possible.

The diversity of Startup Week was amazing. Ranging from an IoT Avenue to Chase Basecamp to sessions on Lawns, Drones, Kitchens/Café’s, and my personal favorite: Motown, Marketing, Music and More: In the contemporary entertainment industry, it is necessary to conduct yourself with the mindset of an entrepreneurial, self employed businessman. Delivered through the lens of the newly founded Detroit Institute of Music Education, now in its second year, this presentation will dive into the concepts of mentorship, networking, versatility, open-mindedness, and “simple done well.” That’s the key to Detroit—everyone wants to help everyone else be successful, because it’s all good for Detroit.

Microsoft was part of a panel and workshop discussion suite that included January Advisors, Data Driven Detroit, Loveland, and the City of Detroit’s Director of Innovation and Emerging Technology. We discussed best practices from Houston to Chicago to Detroit and how to open up the city’s public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all. Examples like D3’s Motor City Mapping were discussed and Garlin Gilchrist II announced that Detroit will be working with Smart Chicago and Microsoft to bring the Civic User Testing (CUT) Group program to Detroit, in partnership with Data Driven Detroit. We are extremely excited to help with this innovative program.

Detroit Startup Week panel May 2016.pptx

Congratulations to the volunteers who helped make Detroit Startup Week such a success. We’re looking forward to next year—a bigger crowd, more growth and more success for the new Motor city. NOTHING stops Detroit!

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Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.