AOL Founder Steve Case: Detroit Has All the Ingredients for a Comeback

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you really have to get here. My words don’t give it justice. It doesn’t matter who we take through the tour [of the Madison Block startup hub downtown], whether it’s Steve Case or Madonna, they’re wowed because it’s not their expectation.”

Case lamented the constant drumbeat of negative press coverage of Detroit: “Everyone has given up on Detroit, but that’s what’s galvanizing—not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. There are lots of people here because they want to be part of the next era of Detroit. America was a startup 250 years ago. Now it’s the leader of the free world because we have the leading economy, which is thanks to entrepreneurs. The whole country can play a role in the continuation of the American story. The last half-century [in Detroit] has not been good, but what’s happening now is a rebuilding of hope and optimism. Entrepreneurs are figuring out what the next great opportunity is.”

A startup pitch contest followed the fireside chat, with a chance to win a $100,000 investment from Case and a free trip to Washington, DC, to pitch Revolution Ventures investors. Hundreds of startups applied to compete; making the cut were, Birdhouse for Autism, Locqus, Cribspot, Wisely, SkySpecs, Gridpar, Spincard, AdAdapted, and Detroit Aircraft Corp., a startup that relocated to Detroit from San Francisco in 2012, walked away with the prize.

To see a recap of yesterday’s Detroit events and to follow the rest of the bus tour, check out the hashtag #RiseOfRest on Twitter.

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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