To know the state of entrepreneurship in America, one need look no further than the iconic and historic Detroit region. The remarkable rebirth of the newly nicknamed, “American Comeback City,” exemplifies the American dream in the land of opportunity.
The 2008 financial crisis and the fallout of The Big Three forced most investors to abandon the entire Metro Detroit market. Thousands of people lost their jobs and moved to other states in search of new job opportunities. However, some small business owners refused to give up on their community, decided to stay, and reinvested in southeast Michigan despite the chaos and uncertainty. I am among them.
My business, Emagine Entertainment Inc., came out of the financial crisis raring to go. Emagine redoubled its commitment to an exemplary moviegoing experience by investing millions of dollars in new theaters and in upgrading its existing venues. Guests have voted with their wallets and our commitment is paying off. Not only have we created hundreds of new jobs, but we have grown the tax base and added to the quality of life in southeast Michigan. We have also supported countless local philanthropic initiatives, particularly in the realm of education and food security.
Thankfully, a number of pro-business policies have been enacted since the Great Recession and the transformation that has been taking place in the Motor City is exemplary. The unemployment rate in January 2018 dropped to a remarkable new record, 8.4 percent from its high of 28.4 percent in 2009. The small business owners who refused to close their doors and abandon their communities a few years ago are growing and expanding their businesses. Jobs are being created giving the resilient locals hope and more reasons to stay.
In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 small business owners from around the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife indicates that more small businesses are planning to hire in the year ahead — 5 percent more compared to last quarter. This is great news for our local business climate.
The latest Small Business Index also showed a 17 point jump in the percentage of Main Street businesses optimistic about the national economy, which could correspond with the recent tax reform legislation. Even though rules to implement tax reform are still being written, we are seeing that large and small businesses alike are optimistic about what tax reform means for our growth potential.
Small business can be the catalyst for our community’s continued growth as long as we continue to see regulatory relief like the recent tax reform. Small business owners are optimistic on the benefits of tax reform for the companies and the national economy. According to the U.S. Chamber’s Index, nearly twice as many small businesses feel tax reform will help their business.
At Emagine, the convergence of the city’s comeback and meaningful small business tax reform has lead us to announce our boldest move yet: development of a new luxury movie theater in the heart of Detroit. With an anticipated opening in early 2020, the new Sean Anderson Theatre Powered by Emagine represents the first new movie complex to be opened in the city in over 40 years.
Today, enthusiasm and optimism are back. A vibrant and robust business environment is energizing the city on every level. We should be encouraged that the majority of small businesses — including ours — are ready to grow. Few things could be more important to the prosperity of Detroit in the long term than the success of our local businesses. Fellow small business owners, let’s keep that optimism moving and keep our community growing.
Paul Glantz is co-founder and chairman of Emagine Entertainment Inc. He is also a board member of the Detroit Regional Chamber.