Detroit’s problems in the last decade or so have been well-documented. The once-proud home of America’s automotive industry has been gutted in recent years and competes with the likes of Newark for the ranking of the ‘worst city in the US’.
Despite Detroit’s problems, the story of its death is also the story of the revival of the US city. There are many people working on the grassroots in Detroit right now to revive the city’s economic future. Its current financial woes mean that enterprising people have the freedom to launch exciting and bold ventures at a greatly discounted price. And, not surprisingly, franchising is there on the ground in Detroit and thriving.
The Detroit Free-Press ran an exciting and long story this week on franchising in the Motor City. Buoyed by extremely low rents, franchisors are now looking to invest in the building of the new Detroit.
Even though credit is still tight, local commercial real estate brokers say there are active franchise operations and retailers looking for prime sites in metro Detroit, including Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, T-Mobile and Del Taco. There are 28,139 franchise businesses in Michigan, the International Franchise Association reports.
Interrestingly, the problems in Detroit have helped franchises already, primarily in the automotive sector. This is different though. American cities have been undergoing huge changes in the past two decades, with many big cities like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Detroit losing their industries and populations. But with signs appearing that people are moving back to the city, franchises are taking advantage of the need for business activity in these spaces, and in turn, spurring on the regrowth of the US city. Hopefully, this will spread across the entire economy.
"There are fewer employment options," Mark Cory, franchise consultant, told the Free Press. "And maybe, to a lesser degree, there's a sense that this is a good time to start a business because we have hit rock bottom and are starting to come out of it now."