Why Detroit is a great city for female entrepreneurs

Detroit was built on the backs of Henry Ford and his automotive brethren. But this time, when Detroit rises, it may well be built by young women.

Detroit may struggle to attract supermarkets and national retailers, but it is enticing one unlikely group in scores. The Motor City is the new, surprising face of female entrepreneurship—and women in their 20s and 30s are leading the city’s revival through new ventures.

Within the past five years, Detroit has become known both as the Wild West and the land of opportunity for business founders, a significant proportion of them female. Lax regulation, low barriers to entry and a surging demand for products and services make the city, which is emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, the ideal place to start a business. Add to the mix the legions of incubators, accelerators and resources available to all entrepreneurs sprouting up Downtown and in Midtown, and it’s clear why women are choosing en masse to locate their startups in Detroit.

Accelerators and even state and federal agencies are homing in on rebuilding the city by supporting entrepreneurs. TechTown Detroit, Ponyride and Green Garage Detroit each offer workspace, community support and training programs, while a host of smaller incubators such as Hatch Detroit and FoodLab Detroit provide marketing, publicity and money through contests and other programs. The U.S. Small Business Administration lent $100 million to women-owned businesses in Michigan over the past 12 months, a 41 percent increase over last year. The agency’s Michigan district office also launched “Getting to Yes,” a statewide initiative to grow lending to small businesses.

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