Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, wrote in his book The Coming Jobs War, on the premise of why the economy stalled “There are two reasons for this. One, business leaders aren’t in a ‘growth’ state of mind. … They have lost their will to ‘dream it, build it,’ as our friend, ad man Roy Spence, put it. Second, the country is seriously short on startup companies. We need a minimum of 2 million startups per year to keep our economy and jobs pumping, but we’re running at roughly 400,000 a year. Nothing fixes America’s economic problems unless the number of startups soars to new heights.”
Startups, small businesses run by entrepreneurs, similar to Operation HOPE, are in short supply in modern Detroit, but it was not always this way.
Detroit was built on the rise of the automobile industry, but that rise was actually built on a big, bold and noble American idea: for the people, of the people and by the people. If not for the working poor, struggling class, and the middle class dreamers there would be no Detroit, or the wealth and opportunity that came along with it.
Similar to many powerful American innovations, the automobile industry became sustainable once car prices decreased; this created a larger consumer base. In many ways, the powerful aspirational dreams of the working class — man and woman, manifested into real outcomes that built modern Detroit.
According to Forbes, dealers were not allowed to directly sell to African-Americans. Despite this restriction, African-Americans realized their American dream, of owning a luxurious Cadillac, by paying white men to purchase a car on their behalf. In fact, these Cadillac purchases would greatly contribute to saving General Motors, during the Great Depression.
Detroit will come back, but the question now is — how, when and in what form?
If fear and small mindedness assumes control, Detroit will re-emerge as a small, well-heeled city of the elite; But, if the history that made Detroit great in the first place finds a way forward, to re-imagine itself, to re-emerge, then Detroit will take this moment as an opportunity for a reset, rather than the death sentence through bankruptcy.
Detroit can choose to invest in entrepreneurs, true innovators, and things that give people real hope. In doing this, America’s comeback city will re-root its soul in the future, and retool the skills of the people that made it a great city in the first place, thereby tapping the un-leveraged opportunity, the ideas, and the city’s broad-based human capital to spark an entrepreneurial and small business economy that creates jobs.
John Hope Bryant is an entrepreneur, author, adviser, and one of the nation’s most recognized empowerment leader. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, The Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S.
Read the rest of his article and more of his recent work on the Huffington Post