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Diane Durance

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I'm immersed in the entrepreneurial and business development ecosystem and have various levels of involvement with dozens of organizations. I'm currently the vice president of New Enterprise Forum, as well as executive director of Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest and Startup Michigan. At GLEQ, we manage the SmartZone Award on behalf of Michigan's statewide network of SmartZones. As a mentor to a startup team from Lake Superior State University, I've gotten the student entrepreneurs' perspective on the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge and the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. I can't imagine any other state is working as hard to provide support and resources to entrepreneurs.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
There's a real commitment across the state to support entrepreneurial successes. The organizations, governments, and universities are collaborating and working efficiently together to deliver real value to our entrepreneurs. We've identified the barriers to success, like limited access to capital, and we're taking action to remove them.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
I would fuel the fire that's already been set around entrepreneurship. The mood is increasingly optimistic and energized, but we can do more.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
Reach out. Contact your local Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center (MI-SBTDC) counselor and learn about the other organizations providing entrepreneurial support. Why go it alone, when there are so many free and low-cost services available?

What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
I see a city and a region that has experienced economic collapse and has developed survival skills and the sheer grit it'll take to succeed and move forward.

What is one thing Michigan does better or has going for it that other more successful regional economies don't?
There's momentum building up and it's going to take us farther faster than anyone could have predicted.

It's often said that Metro Detroit and Michigan need to reinvent their economies to be competitive. Are we making those changes, and if so are we making enough of them or doing it fast enough?
We're well on our way. We did need to reinvent, we're making the changes and we're making them at an increasingly faster clip every day.

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