Emergence of Makers and Manufacturers

May 1, 2017  

Detroit may be best known as an automotive manufacturing town, but the influx of makers, high-tech innovators and manufacturers attracted to the city and planting permanent roots here are wide ranging. Detroit’s growing portfolio of creatives is diverse, from luxury bicycle and craft beer makers to online retail giants, app developers, a burgeoning cut-and-sew industry and varied artists of poetry and paint.

  • Detroit’s first-ever Garment District is being created in partnership between Detroit Garment Group and Midtown Detroit Inc. The two have 27 Michigan-based companies eager to come together and locate within the garment district in Detroit.
  • In just three years, Detroit-based Shinola has become an internationally respected brand for manufacturing quality luxury goods, including bicycles and watches. Shinola is currently planning to open a cafe and production space as part of a larger redevelopment spearheaded by Midtown Detroit Inc.
  • In 2015, online retailer Amazon announced its new corporate office and tech hub would be located in downtown Detroit. A new multimillion-dollar Amazon distribution center is set to open in the Detroit suburb of Livonia in fall 2017.
  • The $148 million lightweight metals manufacturing institute announced by former President Barrack Obama is located in the city of Detroit.
  • Microsoft is moving its Michigan Technology Center to downtown Detroit in early 2018.
  • Between 2007 and 2016, TechTown, Detroit’s business innovation hub, has served more than 1,800 companies, created nearly 1,300 jobs and has leveraged more than $120 million in start-up capital.
  • The Venture for America fellowship program has a small colony of recent college grads in Detroit building small businesses, including Loveland Technologies, which creates databases and mobile app services that help catalog properties and their condition for government entities, developers and neighborhood groups.
  • Detroit Venture Partners backs seed and early-stage startup teams in the city. It has worked actively to support the growth of the M@dison Block (now 70 startups and growing), Detroit’s downtown tech ecosystem.
  • Alternative energy-based businesses continue to populate the region, including the downtown-based Nextek Power Systems and Inventev, which was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop components of a hybrid electric drive system. 
  • Now in its sixth year, Hatch Detroit, a champion for independents and entrepreneurs in the city, has expanded its retail role into six neighborhoods. Since 2011, 14 Hatch alumni businesses have opened up storefronts in varying categories.
  • The Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) delivers programming to help creative entrepreneurs and enterprises grow revenue, acquire clients and build organizational capacity. Since 2011, DC3 has helped 45 early stage creative ventures grow and succeed in Detroit. To date, these firms employ approximately 100 employees; reported $2.7 million in revenues; and absorbed 17,000 square feet of vacant studio space.


Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Shinola
    441 W. Canfield St., Detroit, MI 48202313-285-2390 Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Midtown Detroit
    3939 Woodward Ave., Ste. 100, Detroit, MI 48202313-420-6000 Highlight on map | More Details