BCIC Business Model

The BCIC is founded on the theory that while knowledge workers may indeed be the future of the state’s economy, there are currently thousands of creative, hardworking experiential  workers, whose mechanical skills rank them among the best in the world.  We want to leverage this skill and turn it into a problem-solving force.  This skill can be used both to solve problems and to educate.  It is our hope that entrepreneurs can find the inspiration, support and resources within our walls to launch a venture that contributes to a Michigan that is renowned as the world’s source for culturally, economically and socially successful business endeavors.

Operating Revenue for the center will be driven from nine separate sources:

  1. Studio rentals – tenants to the building will be selected based on their skill levels, their social skills and their desire to work collaboratively to solve problems.  Each studio will be self-supporting, and may or may not be used as a part of the collaborative process, depending on the desire of the tenant.  We have been involved in this area for some time – and were awarded a “CoolCities” designation from the Governor in 2004 for the successful implementation of this concept.  The studio rentals will help to pay for the entire floor space, including the common area.
  2. Memberships – individual memberships will be sold to allow access to the common area workshop.
  3. Corporate sponsorships – these sponsorships may or may not come with assigned studio space.
  4. Training – the common area will use machines for training that will consist of students and adults (“Shop class”) and will include training in specific skills (“joinery or cabinet making, etc”), creative techniques, etc.  The “Steelyard” in Providence, Rhode Island, and “Smartshop” in Kalamazoo offer alternative examples of this concept.
  5. Design and problem-solving services – “members” can partake in design exercises contracted by outside vendors to solve particular problems or create new products.  IDEO or “Eureka!” in Columbus are examples of this.
  6. Design immersion – Corporate support is expected from large organizations whose designers need to gain “real world” experience to leverage their product knowledge and better apply it to specific products.  Become a part of Ford’s design rotation.
  7. Equity participation – we will participate in the success of our entrepreneurs by trading equity for the help needed to get started.
  8. Sale of artwork in the gallery space -
  9. 9. Sale of customized products – the “Steelyard” in Providence is a good example.  They highlight a small group of specialized products that they build in conjunction with local artists or as a part of their training courses. 

–         Bike Racks – Unique designs with capacity for 2-20 bikes providing durable and original solutions for bike parking while promoting alternative transportation.

–         Tree Guards – Custom-made to be incorporated into any streetscape greening plan provides great protection for new or old trees..  

–         Trash Cans and Recycling Bins – Finely crafted pieces fabricated in limited edition series or one-of-a-kind by local artists. A great way to encourage clean streets and parks.

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Setting up

The common area of the facility can be set up using sponsors and grant dollars to cover the necessary tools and equipment.  Money is available for workforce development and training (City of Detroit, State of Michigan, Skillman, etc.), for sponsorship of products and materials (Masco, Home Depot, etc.) and for unions who are looking to broaden the skills base of their members.

Resources

There are a number of creative, knowledgeable craftsmen and others who are interested in getting involved with the operation of this facility.  Many of these people believe that education in the crafts is a means of “bridging the gap” to reach individuals in prisoner re-entry programs, in worker retraining programs and in working with high school students who have not had the benefit of this education.  Clearly this concept leverages the human resource that made this area of the country strong.

We have held promising discussions with architecture firms, designers, construction firms, consulting firms, trade unions, small businesses, etc.  There is a great deal of support for this concept.  The Eureka Ranch has offered to support us with regular facilitation sessions that are designed to provide education and direction to help us grow startup small businesses.  It is our goal to act as a feeder system and send these businesses to TechTown to become part of the Fast Track program so these businesses can gain an additional advantage as they grow.

Advantages

Blue Collar Innovation Center will assist in the development of successful startups in three key ways:

  1. Provide a resource for existing businesses to physically build out their product ideas.  We can produce non-working prototypes of ANYTHING in house, and can produce many working prototypes.
  2. Provide a feeder for new startups. It is expected that a number of the products and collaborations that begin as design exercises will eventually move into the entrepreneurial phase.
  3. Assist start-up companies focused on artistic creative endeavors become successful for-profit or sustainable nonprofit entities. Some of its many resources include:
  • Office space
  • Technical support
  • Grant writing
  • Access to capital
  • Leadership, professional and development training
  • Managerial, law and business expertise
  • Assistance acquiring capital, grants and/or investors

More than just a design/build/engineering prototype shop, Blue Collar Innovation is an incubator that provides startups with the tools necessary to become successful creative professionals.  This wealth of resources is what makes Blue Collar Innovation a unique organization in metro Detroit.