Black women are thriving in Detroit’s business ecosystem

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The city of Detroit has had a hard couple of decades dealing with crises like the departure of the auto industry, depopulation and corruption in local government. But there’s been a bright spot: The number of women-owned businesses in the city more than doubled from 2012 to 2019.

Courtney McCluney, an assistant professor at the School of Industrial and Labor and Relations at Cornell University, is conducting a multiyear study on Black women entrepreneurs in Detroit. She spoke with “Marketplace’s” Kai Ryssdal about entrepreneurship in Detroit. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Ryssdal: Tell me why, would you, you’re studying Black female entrepreneurs in Detroit specifically.

Courtney McCluney: Yes, a couple of reasons motivated us. One was that Black women have, over the last three or four years, been the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. So there are more of them starting businesses at higher rates, despite having disproportionate access to resources, including capital. And at the same time, a city like Detroit actually looks more like other cities across the world and in the U.S. And as much as people love to look at Silicon Valley as a model, …

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