NEI Kicks off Innovative “NEI Street Level” Program

As a philanthropic program looking for ways to better connect to the people and organizations it services, the New Economy Initiative (NEI), a special program of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, is launching an innovative new program called “NEI Street Level” today. The initiative will embed NEI staff into many of Greater Detroit’s co-working and shared spaces on a rotating schedule for a few days a week, over the next two to three years to provide NEI with a better understanding of the real, everyday challenges and needs of Detroit’s entrepreneur community and help better connect that community through its work.
Beginning today through January 2015, the NEI staff will begin working from within Grand Circus, a co-working space in downtown Detroit, located at 1570 Woodward in the Broderick Tower. Co-working spaces, such as Grand Circus, offer a shared work environment for independent creative freelancers, remote workers, small businesses and startups to not only work on their own projects and grow their own business, but at the same time also share resources, network and learn.
“We believe NEI Street Level is one of the more unique approaches taking place in philanthropy today,” said David O. Egner, NEI executive director. “We are very intentionally joining our region’s bourgeoning entrepreneurial movement by physically planting ourselves right in the middle of it. Our hope is that, by the sheer nature of our work, we can help foster connections that accelerate growth, and provide more access for all of our varied populations to the activities driving prosperity.”
Co-working and shared spaces serve as primary hubs for the new ideas, community building and collaboration that are driving today’s economy. By 2020 more than 40 percent of American’s workforce will be freelance in one form or another, so the spaces that foster those relationships will be more important than ever. According to a report in Forbes magazine in February, 2014 co-working spaces have increased by 400 percent in the last few years because they offer what forward-thinking entrepreneurs are looking for – community and collaboration.
With Detroit’s network of co-working spaces growing, the city will celebrate its second “Detroit Co-Working Week” from October 20-24, 2014. Organized through Co-Lab Detroit and sponsored by NEI, Detroit Co-Working Week will include a number of speaker series and open houses throughout many of Detroit’s co-working and shared spaces.
Throughout the NEI Street Level program, the NEI team will share updates on its experiences, connections and outcomes through blog posts on its website at NewEconomyInitiative.org.

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