Ned Staebler, CEO TechTown Detroit, Talks Small Business Challenges | Detroit Is THIS Podcast Ep. #1
Detroitisit founder Ivana Kalafatic speaks with special guest, CEO of TechTown, Ned Staebler, on the importance of partnering with local communities, TechTown’s roles in creating change in neighborhoods, and his mindset for producing results. The duo details what makes a city, a city, and why Detroit is a hidden gem. The current state of the world is addressed, including Ned missing the energy and socializing at TechTown, as well as what the futures of TechTown and Detroit look like. Pssst! There are lessons to be learned from living through the Detroit bankruptcy! Then Ned talks about balancing faith and numbers while deciding who to fund, innovation and survival during hardships, and top tips for businesses for future success.
Ned Staebler is VP for Economic Development at Wayne State University and CEO of TechTown. A native of the northwest side of Detroit, Ned was well aware that he grew up during a time of tremendous struggle and change. He left to attend Harvard, then worked in the finance industry after graduating, living in Chicago and London. Two years turned into a decade, with Ned attending graduate school at the London School of Economics, where he studied Comparative Politics and Political Economy. He [finally] moved back to Michigan to give back to his beloved home and got a job at the state’s economic development agency, where he ran capital access programs and other programs for businesses. Now at WSU, he and his team help businesses by doing placemaking, growing talent, and much more all across the city.
• TechTown partners with neighborhood organizations to promote economic development.
• The restrictions on businesses today breed innovation.
• Businesses need to care about their people, track their cash flow, and seek out additional streams of revenue.
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others by Sarah Bakewell
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
What to listen for:
01:30 Why Ned Staebler returned to Detroit
10:32 How TechTown assists the businesses that make Detroit the city it is
13:15 Should funding be targeted to strategic areas?
17:16 What makes cities, especially Detroit, so compelling to citizens?
22:50 Why Ned loves his job and what he misses most about TechTown right now
31:20 What lessons did Detroit learn from its season of bankruptcy that has prepared them for the economic effects of COVID-19?
34:22 TechTown awarded about 700 grants to businesses--Why the company was willing to take risks for these businesses
40:25 How long can businesses survive in a scenario like this?
45:20 Tips for future success for small businesses in Detroit
50:33 What books are you reading?
52:26 Hope for the future: This too will rise from the ashes.
“They never stop to talk to the people here about what the question was.” 09:17
“It’s important to go into a neighborhood and to ask the people… not ‘What do you think of my plans for your neighborhood?’ but, ‘What are your plans for your neighborhood?’” 09:57
“We’re all in the same storm, but we’re all in different boats” 33:26
Learn more about TechTown at https://techtowndetroit.org/.
Learn more about Detroit community, culture, innovation, and design at https://detroitisit.com/.
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