I have long been a vocal proponent and a strong advocate for hiring close to home. For companies based in or operating out of urban environments, hiring in the inner city should be an important piece of your overall staffing strategy. To be perfectly clear: this is not charity—this is simply a sound business decision. Investing in the surrounding community benefits all businesses and all families. One of the biggest mistakes that business owners and entrepreneurs make is assuming that they can somehow separate their professional environment from their physical and cultural environment. Where you are has a great deal to do with who you are, and not hiring from the surrounding community is not only making the mistake of overlooking a large pool of local talent, it fails to take advantage of the natural connections between people and places. By creating stronger bonds between businesses and the surrounding communities, you can also help instill a growing sense of pride and investment in the region, helping residents and professionals become personally and professionally invested in their city and their work.
In a city like Detroit, with so much history and potential, and such a strong sense of community and a powerful sense of place, that inner city hiring mandate should be even more urgent. When you hire people in the inner city, it strengthens the neighborhoods, strengthens the city and strengthens the company. It allows local residents to bolster their social, personal and financial security—in many cases it allows them to become homeowners and to subsequently reinvest in the community. One job helps one family, yes—but, like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples of prosperity and investment can lead to more opportunities and greater earning potential. A rising tide might not lift all boats, but if you give everyone a fair shot at building their own boat, you’ll be well on your way to having your own fleet.