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Building Detroit’s Digital Infrastructure for Small Businesses

This project seeks to expand Detroit’s digital infrastructure for small businesses by recruiting, training, and placing dedicated tech workers within one of Detroit’s business associations to assess and meet the technology needs of micro-enterprises. The project is an extension of field work in progress by University of Michigan faculty Tawanna Dillahunt and Julie Hui to develop a “Community Tech Worker” program to help bridge the digital divide for low-income and elderly individuals. By piloting an expansion of the tech workers’ client base from individuals to small businesses, this project tests one model of sustainability for that project. Simultaneously, data gathered from this pilot will help business service organizations understand the types and complexity of technology support that small businesses need, along with business owner preferences around timing and mode of delivery. For municipalities that wish to grow their community’s pool of tech talent from within, the data and training materials developed by this project will be useful tools for developing a scalable and accessible community-based model for moving local residents into good-paying tech jobs that can meet small businesses’ needs.

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