Detroit Experience Factory believes the best way to revitalize its city is to engage its people. It’s doing that with experiential tours. Last year the company took 17,000 people across the city to show them what small businesses are doing, how the city’s past is affecting its future, and what the city already has to offer.
“People hear the word ‘tour’ and think double decker bus. That is not what we do,” Jeanette Pierce, Detroit Experience Factory’s executive director, tells NewCo. Its tours are interactive, focused on meeting local business owners, visiting city landmarks, and providing historical context and meaning for what’s happening in the city today. “We want to help people understand the history, the culture, the communities, the neighborhoods, and have an economic impact on the city of Detroit,” Pierce says.
The nonprofit has taken more than 70,000 people on tours since 2006. Downtown walking tours take people along the Woodward Corridor where billions of dollars in development have been spent in recent years, through the theater district (the second largest in the country), and of course on bar tours of neighborhoods like Eastern Market, just to name a few.
Founded in 2006 by Pierce, the nonprofit is an affiliate of the Detroit downtown partnership, a community development corporation focused on revitalizing the city. For Pierce, showing people what your city has to offer is one way to get there. “Every person who knows and understands Detroit is more inclined to support small businesses here, to live in this city, and to be a part of Detroit’s resurgence,” she said.