Business, Events

Little ideas with big dreams welcome at Emerging event

Next week honors “Global Entrepreneurship,” so it is fitting Michigan Emerging takes place Monday. Both lead me to ask: Have you hugged a small-business owner today?

Now in its fourth year, Michigan Emerging strikes me as the kind of event this state needs the other 364 days as well. The goal, organizers told me, is to bring together all of the people who are making things happen around jobs in the state. It honors those who create jobs. It offer suggestions and realistic success stories. It will suggest where Michigan will move forward in 2012. More importantly, it highlights the challenges people overcome when they actually break ground on an idea.

‘Cause it’s that last part that matters. You can dream. You can aspire. But if you don’t actually get busy, you don’t get any of the rewards. And Michigan stagnates a little more. Inactivity is our nemesis, folks. If I’ve learned anything from 10+ years of business reporting, it’s that Michigan has been passive long enough; it’s all about putting the right people together in the right room(s). And, apparently, Cobo Center has enough space for all these big thinkers.

Want to know why this kind of event matters? Ask Rishi S. Jaitly. Maybe his moniker is unfamiliar – granted, he’s not a household name to most of us. But get a load of his resume. He directs Knight’s grant making in Detroit. He co-founded and led Michigan Corps, a social network of Michiganders committed to change in their home state. And he is co-founder of Kiva Detroit.

He went to Michigan Emerging last year. And it was a game changer. And I don’t use that cliché lightly.

“Put simply, it empowered me locally with relationships, knowledge and ideas,” Jaitly said. “It opened doors that led to an invitation to join the Governor’s Transition team and was instrumental in helping an idea crystallize for me called Kiva Detroit—a program that I have since launched that empowers Detroiters to champion local small businesses with microloans. The event was truly a turning point, advancing my career and making me feel locally involved and welcome. I look forward to attending the 2011 event.”

Michigan Emerging may not shake up the whole state. But it has the potential to get lots of pre-businesses in the same space as those who have actually made the leap. No one is there to talk about politics or worry about past mistakes. It’s about making Michigan stronger, building some good jobs, getting some wealth to spread around. I like it…I like it a lot.

Here’s how this thing is going down. It starts with a big pep talk about the “opportunities in Michigan.” Then there’s a bunch of good stuff out of Gov. Rick Snyder, who will discuss the culture and cash around Michigan, all ripe for the picking. Some other dudes, like the good guys at GalaxE Solutions, will focus their keynote about how Detroit is great and a land of opportunity. Then, there will be a bunch of educational clinics aimed at showing potential entrepreneurs how to find these opportunities.

You see a theme here?

Personally, I’m intrigued with how much excitement there is for starting a business here. Thousands of hours have been spent putting this event together. Hundreds of people will share their day Monday, promoting the state and each other. So many ideas will be batted around, shaped and processed. Things will be incubated. Suggestions will be heard.

And at the end of the day…if even one person leaves with a viable business model that gives one Michigan resident a job…then it was worth the time and trouble.

Last year, more than 400 people attended Michigan Emerging. Let’s hope everyone who shows up this year will start a revolution. And soon.

Michigan Emerging will take place from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 in advance and at the door and include a $15 food voucher for lunch. For more information, go here.

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