Urban Revitalization (UR) Circle

Our Urban Spaces

Detroit has endured 6 decades of population decline going from a peak of almost 1,850,000 in the 1950’s to just over 700,000 in 2010. This coupled with the challenges that the US automotive industry faced in the last economic crisis, has left a city that has a geographic area larger than Manhattan, San Francisco and Boston combined with neighborhoods that have been virtually abandoned and unemployment rates over 20%. However, there is an entrepreneurial DIY spirit amongst the residents of the city, and it is this creative energy coupled with new initiatives at the automakers that is turning Detroit into one of the most innovative cities in the country.


By providing patient capital to business based in and/or serving Detroit, the UR circle at the Social Venture Fund aims to contribute to the further development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city, transfer knowledge and human capital from the University of Michigan, and share the state of the art of business practices developed at Ross to shape the rebirth of Detroit. The circle is also very interested in encouraging established entrepreneurs in other cities to expand their model to Detroit. To achieve this vision, the UR circle invests in and supports businesses primarily aimed at:

  • improving low cost housing options
  • developing alternative modes of transportation
  • strengthening workforce development
  • building a creative class


John Barbour, Circle Lead, at [email protected].

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