Detroit’s Build Institute moves forward as a nonprofit org and inclusive ‘innovation hub’


This has been a huge year for Build Institute, a one-of-a-kind launchpad for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Detroit.

In 2018, Build Institute became a stand-alone, independent nonprofit organization. Its goal, says Executive Director April Boyle, is to “come out of the gates strong, and make meaningful, measurable contributions that are immediate and sustainable.”

It also is in the midst of establishing its operations and an inclusive ‘innovation hub’ at The Corner. Build is moving to the former Tigers’ Stadium site in January 2019 and will immediately offer programming, retail space and rentable office and meeting space.

Ultimately, Build hopes to scale into other communities, growing its footprint and earned income revenue stream. By 2022, Build Institute will have served 4,000 entrepreneurs in aggregate.

Since it was founded in 2012 under the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Build has more than 1,400 graduates, more than 510 businesses, and nearly 1300 jobs created. That is why it says it is “dedicated to making Detroit the leader in equitable entrepreneurship.”

According to Boyle, Build Institute is managing two primary streams of work. First, it is creating a much-needed inclusive innovation hub for Detroit entrepreneurs at The Corner, a new development on the site of old Tigers Stadium. Secondly, it is driving new investments in the region’s native talent to grow small businesses, particularly those run by women and people of color.

“The greatest untapped asset in the City of Detroit is people with ideas,” Boyle said. “However, for decades we have under-invested in our residents and left many doors closed as a result. Also, much of the recent development in Detroit has been in two specific areas – Downtown and Midtown.

“That development is necessary and important, but we are still leaving neighborhoods behind and missing countless opportunities to serve native residents,” Boyle added. “Build Institute works to give voice and support to Detroiters and other Michigan residents who have just as much potential and talent, but need different on-ramps toward business development and ownership.”