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Shared Spaces, Gazelle Businesses Regrow Detroit

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Shared Spaces, Gazelle Businesses Regrow Detroit

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Performance at The Rust Belt Market in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of

Most Detroiters probably didn't need the recent state report to tell them that their city is in fiscal trouble. Gov. Rick Snyder is aiming an emergency manager at the Motor City, hoping to balance municipal books, says the Detroit Free Press. A look around once-glorious Detroit shows the toll the auto-making exodus took on the city. Vacant building shells compete with each other for most squalid. Abandoned businesses, derelict homes, underfunded city services, missing streetlights, defunct traffic signals -- most Detroiters are probably more concerned about these than an agenda from Lansing. But it's not all negative in Detroit. An economic spring is sprouting new life in the urban wasteland. Locals are using shared spaces, think tanks, and "gazelle" business opportunities to regrow Detroit.

The Rust Belt Market

When a big box merchandiser moved out, leaving its gaping, cookie-cutter building to moulder, a local couple thought it was a shame to let so much space go to waste. Click on Detroit says owners/operators Tiffany and Chris Best turned it into an artisan showcase, crafts market, and performing arts venue called The Rust Belt Market. Located at 22801 Woodward, Ferndale, Michigan, (about 7 miles from Detroit proper) this gallery-cum-mall-cum-stage uses the "shared space" concept to give entrepreneurs a store front to sell from until they can afford to hang out their own shingle. From soaps to shirts to jewelry to chocolate, The Rust Belt Market provides a one-of-a-kind shopping and selling experience. Limited resources mean the market operates only on weekends -- so far. Via an online fundraising campaign at Kickstarter, the Bests hope to raise seed money for weekday hours.

Detroit Gazelles

No, it's not a sports team, nor is it an animal. But like the speedy creature for which it is named, a gazelle business is a quick-growing enterprise that turns a good profit. And Detroit is being overrun by gazelle businesses, reports Model D Media. That's partly thanks to help from local groups. The names are familiar from the recent Forbes list of billionaires, reported on My Fox Detroit. Real estate magnate Alfred Taubman funds the College for Creative Studies' Taubman Center for Design Education, home base for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. Quicken Loans head Dan Gilbert opened the M@dison Building to give entrepreneurs growing space.

Tech hub Detroit Labs (of Detroit Venture Partner) operated from the M@dison, but grew so fast, it had to build its own place. Detroit companies Pluto (marketing), Paxahua (event planning), 1xRUN (art print vendor), and Skidmore Studio (art and design collective) have all gotten a leg up from these business think tanks.

A Michigan native, Marilisa Sachteleben, writes about people, places, and issues in her state's most pivotal city of Detroit.
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