Detroit Builds a Local Network of Social Innovators

Several years into the effort, membership and activities are robust in a city looking for renewal.

John Heiss, coordinator of the Greater Detroit Network of Social Innovators, reports on recent strategy developments as the network approaches its Fourth Annual Summit (November 12):

  • Building Connectivity Among Network Members–Monthly meetings that generate collaborations and projects among members.
  • Social Venture Business Development–Identify potential investors for promising triple bottom line business development; support deal-flow due diligence; and build capacity of management teams for these businesses.
  • Learning Community of Social Innovators–An annual summit or conference for 80-100 people on social innovation/entrepreneurship topics, and a set of business planning courses.
  • Sector-Based Network Hubs–The Network has developed several sector hubs or affinity groups for investors and participants, in Food Systems, Construction, Energy Efficiency/Building Retrofits, Deconstruction, Social Media/Marketing, Workforce Development and others. The hubs are “production centers” where social sector, public sector and private sector firms come together to pursue business deals and transactions on a broader scale than individual social ventures. The hubs seek to spawn ensembles of social innovation. For example, Food Systems is working on emerging growers, food entrepreneurs, urban agriculture, cast-iron cook-off, processing facilities, farmers markets) that investors and members will pursue.
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