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James Feagin

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
Individually we've been involved in several different programs but this project was made possible by the people who gave their time and talent, and the funders. We had a lot of off-line support from programs and individuals who support what we're doing, but didn't necessarily want to go public with their support just yet.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
This project was funded vie the San Francisco based crowd funding site Loudsauce.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
There is an eagerness right now in Detroit to support anything which positively adds to the landscape. Pretty much whatever your talents, there is an existing or emerging market for it, and if you provide good products or services you can get immediate publicity and patronage.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
The same thing that inspired our project also triggered backlash and resistance. The automotive industry is an undeniable part of our heritage, but we shouldn't be hindered in the expression of ideas which challenge authority or don't fit the mold of what people expect. Detroit's come a long way in the last few years, but we've got to continue to challenge ourselves to enact barrier free thinking and be open to new, big ideas.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
BeloZro's painting is powerful because it forces you to think in new ways, and with all the decisions we face as a city it is critical that we expand what we think is possible. We cant answer new questions with old answers. Our project represents a task specific collaboration of resources to achieve a specific objective. This region has some 50-year-old problems that it's trying to solve, but the people who have a stake in it don't relate to each other enough, and haven't cooperated in the past. We need to start building momentum and relationship tackling some of the smaller problems, which can give us the bonds and energy we need to tackle the big ones.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
We're doing a lot of things well, and we've got to stay on track. Leaders and CEO's are engaging young professionals and creatives in a way like never before. I think we need to do a better job of telling our story. Part of the reason the Eminem Super Bowl commercial we so powerful is it began to change the narrative about Detroit. Many thought it was an official promotion of the region, and not a car ad. Our negative news goes viral, but so can the awesome stories or whats going well around here. We've gotta do a better job of telling them, and making sure they get publicized.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
Make sure you're filling a need, and get engaged. All the resources and relationships you need to succeed are here, whether it's Open City, sponsoring a soccer team in DCFL, or just going to happy hour with cards and getting to know folks.

What do you see in Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
The progress. People look at Detroit now and say, 'Yeah Downtown's nice, but what about the neighborhoods?' Well, beside the fact that such a statement ignores some of Detroit's strong, beautiful areas, I remember 15 years about you could stand in the middle of Woodward on Friday around 6pm and there's be nobody on the road to run you over. And you couldn't have told me as a 1998 graduate of Grosse Pointe South that kids I went to High School with would not only be partying downtown every weekend, but walking home from the bars to their lofts.

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