Attracting talent: Challenge Detroit

More evidence that the business community is way ahead of both the public and policymakers from both parties on the essential role a vibrant city of Detroit must play if the region and state are to be successful economically. The latest terrific private sector initiative is Challenge Detroit from the Collaborative Group.

Understanding that attracting young talent is a key to economic revitalization and that large numbers of them want to live and work in a vibrant central city, Challenge Detroit is a competition to select 30 innovative leaders from throughout the United States to live, work, play and give in Detroit. Participants will live in Detroit, supported by a $500/month housing stipend; receive a $30,000 salary to work at one of the top companies in the region; participate in monthly team challenges, in partnership with area non-profits, designed to positively impact the city and region; and experience the City through organized social and cultural events. 30 Detroit-area companies are participating in Challenge Detroit and will serve as host companies for the 30 participants. Companies participating include: ePrize LLC, Quicken Loans Inc., Valassis Media Solutions, Compuware Corp., Beaumont Hospitals, United Way, and Team Detroit. Challenge Detroit is accepting applications through March 25, 2012 and the year in Detroit will begin in August 2012. If you are interested in participating or know a young professional who might be please check out for more information and to begin the application process.

This competition builds on the foundation funded Teach for American and the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program. Both also national competitions to bring young professionals to Detroit to live and work. What will be surprising to most Michiganders – who still view Detroit as the state’s major liability – young talent from around the world want to live and work in Detroit. Applications for these competitions far exceeds available positions.

What business leadership and foundations also know is that these young professionals are globally mobile. They can choose anyplace on the planet to live and work after college. And where they settle will determine which communities are prosperous and which aren’t. At the moment there is no place in Michigan that is globally competitive for young talent. Given the preference college educated Millennials, before they have kids, have for big cities, the place that can get Michigan in the game is Detroit. (See my last blog on Dan Gilbert.) That is why initiatives like Challenge Detroit are so important to the future of all of Michigan.

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