TechTown, Wayne State University’s business incubator and research park, continues to play an important role in Detroit’s economic revitalization, according to a new report issued by the organization this month.
The “impact report” highlights milestone achievements in entrepreneurship and economic activity between 2007 and 2011 in and around the City of Detroit.
TechTown currently supports 250 companies in industries ranging from the life sciences and advanced manufacturing to the arts and alternative energy through its 100,000 square-foot facility.
Key metrics revealed in TechTown’s inaugural impact report include:
* Since 2007, TechTown has provided support to 647 companies, which have created 1,085 jobs.
* Active and graduate clients generated a combined total of $52 million in revenue in 2011 and $41 million in revenue in 2010.
* In excess of 2,200 people have received entrepreneurial training through TechTown since 2008.
* In 2011, TechTown graduated 62 executives in training from the Michigan Shifting Gears program, an entrepreneurial training program established by the MEDC to re-matriculate former high-level corporate executives back into the workforce.
* TechTown has introduced more than 8,000 Michigan residents to an entrepreneurial culture through networking events, conferences and walk-in sessions.
* TechTown has invested $790,000 directly into client companies through the TechTown Loan Fund and its Thrive One Fund for minority- and women-owned businesses.
* Volunteer mentors have committed more than 4,000 hours of coaching with TechTown startups since 2008 — counsel valued at more than $400,000.
* Since 2009, TechTown has placed 74 interns who have logged 20,000 hours, representing $200,000 in wages.
TechTown President and CEO Leslie Smith attributes TechTown’s exponential growth and success to the organization’s ability to adapt and respond to market needs in real time, supported by its close relationship with collaborative partners including Wayne State University.
In 2009, for example, TechTown responded to Michigan’s record unemployment and financial crisis by opening its doors to thousands of metro Detroiters in career transition, and, with the support of the New Economy Initiative and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, offered intro-level entrepreneurship education courses and coaching services. The byproduct is a diverse fabric of businesses and entrepreneurs that are helping repopulate the Detroit area with products and services that local residents and workers need.
“With our first impact report, TechTown celebrates some of its early successes, but we know this is only the beginning,” Smith states. “As we move forward, we are finding new and more effective ways to meet our entrepreneurs’ needs by providing guidance and support, access to relevant and timely resources and genuine partnership as we work together to revitalize the economy of Midtown Detroit and beyond.”
According to Smith, TechTown’s unique approach to business creation from 2007 to 2011 reflected four basic tenets:
* Guidance – Individualized coaching, education and networking to increase knowledge and help entrepreneurs focus on successful outcomes.
* Community – A culture of optimism that promotes inclusion, collaboration, diversity and a shared desire to achieve a greater good.
* Resources – Business support services that include everything from shared space to access to capital, talent and Wayne State University’s research, academic and technology assets.
* Partners – A broad landscape of allies who offer best-in-class services and networks that empower entrepreneurs within the context of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In addition to economic impact, the inaugural TechTown Impact Report calls attention to the diversity of TechTown’s client companies — a key element for recreating the broad-based infrastructure necessary to sustain Midtown Detroit and its surrounding neighborhoods long-term.
In 2011, TechTown’s client companies were 60 percent women, 66 percent minorities and 47 percent ages 46 and older. In addition, more than 80 percent of TechTown businesses are focused on the delivery of products and services in Detroit, according to the report.
“All these entrepreneurs, regardless of industry, are enriching the region through their commitment to innovation,” notes Allan Gilmour, president of Wayne State University and TechTown’s board of directors. “By guiding a multitude of entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to success, we are accelerating the region’s transformation to an innovation-based economy.”
Matt Roush, CBS Detroit