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Company

Lovio George

681 W Forrest Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

Christina Lovio-George

Christina Lovio-George knows what is feels like when people think you're crazy. They told her as much when she opened Lovio George Communications + Design in what is now Detroit's Midtown neighborhood.

That was 1982, and many things were different. Then the area was more likely to be identified as the Cass Corridor. The rebranding of the neighborhood as Midtown wouldn't happen for more than a decade later. Metro Detroit was mired in a hard recession in the early 1980s, Hudsons was pulling up stakes from downtown, and urban flight was moving at full-speed. So Lovio-George's decision to open her boutique communications and design agency in Detroit turned more than a few heads.

"Everybody thought the brains flew out of my head, and now we're smart," Lovio-George says. "It's funny how that works."

Now Lovio George Communications + Design is a pillar of the Motor City's business community and its home in Midtown is the envy of many creative agencies looking to stake their own claim in the now-red-hot downtown Detroit real-estate market.

Lovio-George grew up in Detroit and went to Wayne State University. In 1982 recent college graduate helped Lovejoy Tiffany, a business travel agency, find a home in Detroit. The Ann Arbor-based firm wanted to move its Metro Detroit satellite office from Farmington Hills to downtown Detroit.

Lovio-George found an old house that had been turned into a commercial space at 681 W Forrest Ave. The Alter family turned the circa-1904 house into a commercial space in the 1940s for a brother (a dentist) and sister (an attorney) to run their respective practices. It became the home of Lovejoy Tiffany in 1982. The owners were so impressed with Lovio-George's work securing the place that they invited her to sublet space in the building for her own communications firm. Lovio-George jumped at the opportunity.

"The fear mongers were continuing to circle the bones and said Detroit was never going to make it," Lovio-George says. "To someone young and dumb it seemed like a great opportunity to start a business."

That didn't mean there weren't challenges to establishing the business. Clients were often squeamish about visiting Lovio George Communications + Design's home. Some employees felt uncomfortable not working in a traditional office building. At one point someone dumped old furniture in the alleyway behind Lovio George Communications + Design's building. Reporters had to walk past the junk to get their credentials until Lovio-George told Bob Berg, Mayor Coleman A Young’s longtime press secretary. Berg rallied city workers to clean up the mess in short order.

Lovio-George soldiered on and built her Lovio George Communications + Design into one of Detroit’s premier communications firms. It now handles work for a who's who list of Motor City institutions, such as The Parade Co, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Tour de Troit. It took over the house at 681 W Forrest in the early 1990s after Lovejoy Tiffany was acquired. Today Lovio George Communications + Design employs a staff of 13 employees and 1-2 interns there.

Lovio-George picked the house because it walked the line between creative commercial space and the feeling of the wholesome, Detroit neighborhood. That it still has that charm is why she keeps growing her business there.

"I thought it would be a good hybrid of what I experienced growing up and where I thought business was going," Lovio-George says. She adds, "Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I do it better? I hope so."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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