Transforming the Motor City

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by Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company


The auto industry is undergoing a revolutionary change that will improve people’s lives in cities around the world. It also will support the ongoing renaissance in my hometown of Detroit.

I am excited to be a part of both of these amazing transformations.

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Third Man Records Finds Its Way Home

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Jack White’s Cass Corridor storefront plugs into a growing maker movement in Detroit.

Photo of Third Man’s Jack White in his hometown baseball stadium: AP

Jack White’s Third Man Records is a perfect example of a business deeply embedded in its community. Even though the record company’s first retail store opened in Nashville in March 2009, the business began in 2001 in Detroit, where White was born, raised, and formed his most famous band, The White Stripes. Last year Third Man opened a flagship location next to Shinola in Detroit’s Cass Corridor section, site of much rock’n’roll history in the Motor City. It’s quite the multipurpose site: record store, novelties lounge, performance stage, old-fashioned recording booth, and – coming soon – a vinyl pressing plant.


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Sue the Government, Detroit Blossoms, and Ben and Jerry Don’t Go to Jail

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Stop Asking Tech to Fight Your Battles
Microsoft is suing the Department of Justice, a bold move you might not suspect from a company that is still smarting from a crushing defeat back in 2001. In his weekly column, NewCo founder and editor in chief John Battelle shows why Microsoft’s action is important to all companies, not just its comrades (and likely allies) in tech. His message to industry: Get involved and stop outsourcing the future of your business to the tech industry.

The Two Stories of NewCo Detroit
There are two stories in conflict in the Motor City: the optimistic story and the realistic story. Both of them are true, yet at NewCo Detroit last week we saw one of them hold sway over the other. We left the festival with a sense of a city with a rich history in all kinds of making that’s zeroing in on the future. Here’s what we saw.

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The Two Stories of NewCo Detroit

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Detroit carries two conflicting stories: one of hopeful optimism, the other present-day realism. Both of them are true, but at NewCo Detroit last week we saw optimism win.

During NewCo’s kickoff last week, Paul Riser, managing director of TechTown Detroit, highlighted his organization’s work supporting Detroit entrepreneurs with investment and advice. His dissection of the tension between what entrepreneurs need and what markets want has ramifications beyond the realities of one tough city. Entrepreneurs anywhere have to be optimistic — the best ones, after all, are creating something new that they’re bringing into the world — but they also have to be realistic.

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Video Spotlight: Detroit Experience Factory Is Not About Tour Buses

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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.


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My Picks for NewCo Detroit in April

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Last fall I had the great pleasure of moderating a conversation featuring four Detroit companies that showcased a community of businesses on a mission. I was impressed by the collective imagination and grit in the room. I am looking forward to returning next month when we hold the citywide NewCo Detroit festival on April 13.

There are many ways to plan a full-day NewCo festival. In Detroit this year, there are two pre-planned tours, one focusing on women leaders and the other examining Detroit 2.0. Or you can plan your own route. One of my favorite — and most frustrating — tasks here is deciding which companies to visit during a NewCo festival. We often have more than a half-dozen simultaneous events. And they’re all great; we wouldn’t select organizations as NewCos if we didn’t think they were worth visiting. Choosing just one company to visit each hour is tough. But choose I must, so here goes:

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