Detroit has been on the comeback trail for a while now. Since filing for bankruptcy in July of 2013, the city has made meaningful financial changes that have helped begin a slow but steady process of rebuilding. Now over three years later, the true benefits of this process are beginning to show to long-time Detroit residents and many new ones as well. One of the key elements of this process is the simple– yet profound– concept of building from the ground up, beginning with the small businesses that show the true spirit of the city.
“The fall of Detroit” has been well documented over the last few years, but it may be necessary to give a short recap in order to explain the meaningful differences in the last three years. While younger generations may not be able to appreciate it, Detroit had been one of the largest and most important municipal centers in the U.S. for the entirety of the 20th century. The center of the American (and global) auto industry, Detroit reached a peak in population at 1.8 million residents in the 1950s.
Although the decline of the American auto industry played a major role in the decline of the city, there were also many other factors including poor fiscal planning and irresponsible management. Shortly after the turn of the century, it appeared as though the financial stability of Detroit was in a freefall. With this came a steady decline in population, and in 2013, the city was home to just under 690,000 residents.
It was also in that year that the city made an unprecedented filing for Chapter 9 protection, with an estimated debt of $18-$20 billion. Prior to this, the largest municipal bankruptcy had been in the amount of $4 billion by Jefferson County, Alabama. After 17 months of difficult litigation, negotiation, and turmoil, bankruptcy courts confirmed a plan of adjustment for the city that cut approximately $7 billion from Detroit’s books.
Despite the difficulties presented by widespread poverty, pension cuts and other challenges that came with a major financial adjustment, Detroiters have found real reasons to be cautiously optimistic over the last three years. Greater investments in development, assurances of improved city services and an ambitious plan to eliminate urban blight have all been reasons for positivity.
But there have been no better examples of the spirit of a recovering city than the small businesses that have been invaluable to their communities. While many young transplants to Detroit have made meaningful contributions– and received loads of news coverage for it– there are also the small businesses and strong entrepreneurs that have been here for decades. Here are a few of the most meaningful, inspiring and fiscally important businesses that helped define Detroit’s resurgence.
Over 15 years ago, a young, open-minded stylist named Nefertiti Harris developed an idea that grew into a business in the historic Cass Corridor neighborhood in Midtown. Her concept was for a “non-salon” that would not only cater to the outer appearance of young black women but also their inner selves. In addition to a focus on natural hair, Textures by Nefertiti cares for the self-confidence and self-image of young Detroit women.
For over 20 years, Cyber Security Solutions Michigan | Protecting Detroit Businesses – CBI has focused on building relationships with clients in Detroit, in addition to building their awareness and cybersecurity systems. The goal of the firm is to ensure that the data of small businesses is secure, compliant and available. Their services are customized to the needs of Michigan businesses and specified to the needs of each client.
It’s a dirty job, but Detroit’s Pashon Murray is passionate about building a sustainable future for the city– and the world– from the ground up. In a Corktown field, Detroit Dirt combines several elements of waste and refuse to create compost for sustainable urban farming and gardening. Among these elements is waste from local restaurants, cafeterias, and breweries, as well as the manure of giraffes, rhinos and zebras collected from the Detroit Zoo.
Derek Pursley is an influencer marketing pro with brownboxbranding.com who is passionate about building authentic relationships and helping businesses connect with their ideal online audience. He keeps his finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving digital marketing world by writing on the latest marketing advancements and focuses on developing customized blogger outreach plans based on industry and competition.