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Howrani Studios

2820 E Grand Blvd
Detroit, MI 48211

Ara Howrani

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I worked for dozens of photographers and production companies as a freelance photo and production assistant in Detroit, Miami and Los Angeles, including working for my dad for a year. My formal training was from Michigan State University where I have a Bachelor's of Science in communication.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and American University of the Caribbean jobs both came in the day I got my "DBA" HOWRANISTUDIOS from the county.

Where did you find your first employee?
My first hire was my first intern. The second hire was a manager position I posted on Craigslist.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Our first intern sought us out, and after interning for a month he became an employee.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
I have not invested too much in my business. I focus on doing good work with my equipment until I need to buy new toys. I haven't had to spend beyond my checking account on marketing, either. I did use Comerica to buy my car; and we may have to use a local agency micro-loan to help renovate our studio's 100 year old facade (unless we can find a facade grant first).

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
To attract and retain young talent, we need to get people to move downtown. That will create a more dynamic downtown, then the city and then the metro area. It's a 5-10 year plan. This will create the synergy and greatness we need, then it ripples out throughout the state. We need to step up the retail, while trying to keep as many original/historic facades as possible for the sake of Detroit's coolness. Also, make sure there is not one dark spot on the street at night with more street lights, so we can enjoy our downtown on foot. A lot of people are scared of Detroit, and of the dark.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Detroit's brand acknowledges that our cultural and underground life is cool, so abide by it. Please, don't tear it down and replace it with any tourism-based new stuff. Try to use and maintain the historic and underground places, so we don't end up looking like Orlando. For instance, let's use or complement Cass Corridor's cool old brick, and just add a lot more street lights.

In the meantime, the folks who aren't going anywhere will work on the balance of Detroit's city limits to get the neighborhoods straightened out, as that's another situation we're making moves on.

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