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Jenile Brooks

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I have participated in Michigan Shifting Gears, SBA & Women's Business Center, Wayne State Law School Small Business Clinic and 100 Urban Entrepreneurs Mentorship Program.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
Echoing Green is a great place for social entrepreneurs as is Kiva Detroit. Our company won a business competition in 2011 through 100 Urban Entrepreneurs.

What do you see in Metro Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
People outside of Detroit tend to see and hear more of what's not working. The energy within the city is much different. You can feel that things are changing even if those changes aren't yet visible. But that's also part of what makes it exciting to be in Detroit right now. The city has a rough exterior with plenty of great and exciting ideas brewing underneath the surface. 

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Between New York, LA and DC I've lived outside of Detroit for the past 10 years but I would never have started a business anyplace but here. Doing business in any other big city is like buying a present for Donald Trump. There's not too much you can get him that he doesn't already have. As an entrepreneur in Detroit you're a part of really meaningful motion forward. The opportunities for resources and the support from fellow entrepreneurs are endless.

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
Citizen-led movements. There are so many organizations around the country harnessing the collective power of every day people with ideas to make social changes.  I think here in Detroit we're just starting to scratch the surface and it's exciting to think about what's to come.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
While there's so much innovation and excitement in Detroit right now, I think the awareness of what's happening still lies with a select few that are tuned in and tapped in. To really attract and retain the kinds of leadership and entrepreneurship that can turn the city around, Detroit's brand needs to be re-envisioned. Our local leaders are in a perfect position to champion a new image. Once young entrepreneurs get past the assumptions about what it means to live in Detroit, they'll realize the resources they need and impact they're hoping for are here.

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