NEI Reports Find Detroit’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is Growing

Last month, the New Economy Initiative (NEI), one of the nation’s largest philanthropic partnerships focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, unveiled the results of two reports it commissioned to measure the organization’s impact, and the data confirms that Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing.

According to research done by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, the NEI’s support has helped entrepreneurs and small businesses generate $2.9 billion in real economic output and create 17,490 jobs in Southeast Michigan. Incorporating data from the NEI’s inception in 2008 through 2015, the report also found more than one million square feet of space has been “activated” for entrepreneurial activities—think vacant buildings taken over by startups—and close to 180,000 people have attended entrepreneurial networking events. Grantees have also leveraged NEI support to attract $232 million in matching funding.

According to the reports, the NEI has also helped to increase the number of business support organizations and programs in the region from fewer than 10 in 2007 to more than 50 today. And almost two-thirds of local entrepreneurs surveyed said the level of support for starting and growing a business has increased in the past five years.

“Because this type of effort is so new and unusual—there’s not anything like it anywhere in the country to compare it to—we wanted to measure our impact on employment and economic development,” says Pamela Lewis, who leads the NEI. “We knew the numbers were there, but seeing it all in one place and getting that validation made the NEI team feel so good about the work being done.”

The economic and employment impact studies by PwC and Upjohn analyzed information reported to NEI by grantees in quarterly reports, as well as in interviews with regional entrepreneurs.

The NEI awards grants to organizations and programs supporting entrepreneurs of all kinds, from brick-and-mortar retail to high tech. It was initially conceived … Next Page »

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

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