Downtown Detroit's M(at)dison Building has been officially upgraded to a "hub" thanks to its new designation as one of seven North American Google For Entrepreneurs hot spots.
Freep: The tech area in Detroit — dubbed Madison Block — is anchored by the M@dison Theatre Building, which houses Detroit Venture Partners and two dozen tech start-ups. It is bordered by Woodward, Broadway, Witherell and John R.
The Tech Hub Network, an offshoot of Google for Entrepreneurs, is designed to connect communities and entrepreneurs — and to help foster their businesses outside Silicon Valley.
That's how the Free Press, located in a building bordered by Lafayette, Third, Fort, and Second, reported it. But what that actually mean substantively?
Well, we know it meant about 500 people attended Monday's announcement. It also means that tech industry Babbitts and advertorial rah-rah journals were able to use all their favorite breathless adjectives.
In a PR Newswire release, Dan Gilbert said the news is further evidence that an "explosive high-tech corridor" is growing downtown. Josh Linkner said Google's support for "passionate entrepreneurs" is "an opportunity to create jobs, urban density, and hope."
Similar hosannas were tossed around in other places. Xconomy (the Brawndo of business publications) said news that Denver's Galvanize co-working staff was selected for the program was "an impressive win for Colorado" (like Super Bowl XXXII?) and part of "a whirlwind month for the crew at Galvanize."
In Waterloo, ON, the program is a kind of game show parting gift for the town reeling from Blackberry's free fall into irrelevancy. Waterloo's tech leaders view Google For Entrepreneurs arrival as a kind of rich uncle coming over with his bathrobe open.
Globe And Mail: “We will have access to their experts in various fields,” Communitech chief executive officer Iain Klugman said. “They are opening the kimono and letting us in – it’s a huge honour because Google is a fairly private organization and they have invited us inside. And Google is getting an opportunity to get up close and personal to influence a bunch of start-ups.”
The Kitchener-Waterloo region is reeling after last week’s announcement that BlackBerry would cut 4,500 of its 12,500 employees by next spring as it seeks to cut $50-million from its operating budget and prepare itself for an eventual sale.
Would it be gauche to note that Waterloo's Communitech facility reportedly works with 650 tech start-ups, while Detroit's "explosive high-tech corridor" has all of 24 businesses located at the M(at)dison Building's "ground zero for entrepreneurship"? Probably.
Anyway, beyond the flowery language of the triumphalism set, does the Google For Entrepreneurs program bring anything else to table in Detroit or anywhere else?
Yes, supposedly. However, no one is saying what exactly.
The specifics Google For Entrepreneurs' actual programmatic activities remain undisclosed. Basically, 500 people showed up downtown yesterday to learn that something will happen at some point in the future and it will be good because it's Google.
Details like dollars invested, economic activity spurred, new hires, etc. are boring, old economy factoids that simply aren't relevant to our "explosive" new economy.