DETROIT (WWJ) – Up-and-coming business owners, along with those wanting to make their business better, were at Cobo Center Thursday morning to discuss the needs of urban entrepreneurs in the Detroit area.
The Urban Economic Forum, held by The White House Business Council, along with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, hopes to take entrepreneurs in Detroit from just ideas to reality.
"Is it easy – do you just walk out and people just hand you buckets of money? Of course not, but that's what entrepreneurs do … they figure things out," said Josh Linkner of Detroit Venture Business Partners, who sees entrepreneurs as a major force that will bring jobs, urban density and hope back to the city.
Among the topics of discussion were the resources available to minority and urban entrepreneurs who are trying to access capital for their businesses. Mentors were also available to provide advice to business owners.
Though in business for 17 years selling office furniture, Ray McCoy of Detroit said he learned new ideas at the forum.
"I have met with one mentor already and he gave me some really good insights," said McCoy. "Even though I have been in business for a while, you don't know it all. You have to talk with people that have been there to help you to get where you need to be – and want to be."
Mayor Dave Bing, speaking with WWJ Newsradio 950's Ron Dewey, said that doing business in Detroit is not as difficult as it was in the past, but there is still pushback from the existing culture at city hall. Bing says that small business entrepreneurs bring critical jobs to the area.
" … People look at it and say 'it's only five jobs, it's only 10 jobs,' but when you multiply that by the amount of entrepreneurs that are looking to either start a business or expand their business, the numbers grow really, really fast," Bing said.
Entrepreneurs are being seen as the spark plug to restart the Motor City's economic engine, and Linkner believes Detroit has the entrepreneurs needed to provide that spark. "… Detroit, to me, is ground zero of entrepreneurship in the United States," he said.
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