Whomever invented the term social entrepreneurship probably wasn't thinking of the partnership between the University of Michigan and Cass Community Social Services
, but it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think something similar inspired it.
U-M's Integrated Product Development class has been working with Cass Community Social Services' Green Industries program to come up with new businesses that are both sustainable (financially and environmentally) and create jobs in the Motor City.
"Detroit is a gritty, tough, resilient city but also tragic in many different ways," says William Lovejoy, a professor of operations and technology at U-M's Ross School of Business
, who also overseas the Integrated Product Development class. "These people (who are participating in the partnership), myself included, think diversifying the economy is key for the long-term success of the city so it can stand on its own."
Cass Community Social Services already has a couple of green businesses. One focuses on turning discarded tires into welcome matts. Another employs developmentally disabled people to shred documents. The newest one employs formerly homeless people to turn recycled glass into coasters. That new business currently has eight people working at it, Lovejoy says.
"I understand they are selling all they can make," Lovejoy says.
The mini-coaster business was spawned from a brainstorming session of people working at the partnership between the University of Michigan and Cass Community Services. The Integrated Product Development brings together students of business, engineering and art and design to help create these new business and get them off the ground.
Source: William Lovejoy, a professor of operations and technology at U-M's Ross School of Business
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.