November 21 / 2019
Article by John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press

Detroit entrepreneurs get new story-telling campaign to celebrate, inspire

Detroit’s entrepreneurs have a good story to tell. And now they have a new forum in which to tell it.

The New Economic Initiative, an effort backed by major foundations, on Thursday is launching “In Good Company Detroit,” a storytelling campaign and platform to celebrate entrepreneurs and small business owners with videos, podcasts, photography and writing.

The campaign trailer and information is available at The effort includes a resource directory of more than 230 service providers and other business resources.

Among the artists creating the stories about entrepreneurs will be Detroit filmmaker Stephen McGee and nationally recognized storyteller Shannon Cason. NEI is paying for the campaign with grant money provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Since its launch more than a decade ago, NEI has made more than $120 million in grants to local organizations that support entrepreneurs. More than 12,000 companies have been helped through those grants.

Pam Lewis, director of NEI, said that is meant to provide practical tools for potential startups.

“We wanted to give someone a point of action,” she said. “Be inspired, that’s great, see your community as a place of opportunity for you, that’s even better. But if you actually want to start a business, this is where you can start.”

And she emphasized that is meant to be a forum and tool by and for Detroiters.

“A lot of people are telling Detroit’s story that either aren’t from Detroit or they are from Detroit but they are focusing the story at an external audience,” Lewis said. But this new effort will focus “on the audience that’s right here.”

The first in an ongoing series of stories features Nieves Longordo, president of Diseños Ornamental Iron. Diseños Ornamental Iron was founded more than 40 years ago by Tony Martinez, Nieves’ stepfather. Today the company employs 14 people.