The city of Detroit is getting a little Magic…a little of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, that is.
On Thursday, the hall of fame basketball player announced that he is joining Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital company including Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I tried to do businesses here with the mayors before to bring my theaters here—it didn't work out," Johnson told reporters after a news conference in Detroit. "Now, with Dan, I've now found the right opportunity ... and the right partner."
Johnson grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and played for Michigan State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.
The firm, where he will now serve as a partner, launched last year. Detroit Venture Partners targets technology start-ups and seeks to grow them in Detroit. Last year Dan Gilbert moved his mortgage lender headquarters downtown from a local suburb. He and Johnson are now looking to buy buildings in the area through Johnson’s real estate fund which has $1 billion cash.
In a city with an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent, residents can only hope that the new partnership will provide more opportunities for the area’s residents who have faithfully stayed in the city.
According to the 2010 census, over the past 10 years Detroit has lost a quarter of its population, leaving them with a number around 700,000 residents. When the emigration rate is broken down, one person left the city every twenty-two minutes between 2000 and 2010.
Similar to the strong-willed, optimistic residents, Johnson has hope for the city.
“I am investing in Detroit Venture Partners and the City of Detroit because I want to have a positive impact on the biggest downtown in my home state. I believe strongly in the Detroit 2.0 movement and creating opportunities to help people get back to work.
Thankfully Johnson isn’t the only person trying to get people back to work. By the end of the summer Detroit’s top three auto companies, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, will start hiring blue-collar workers again for the first time since the economic crash in 2008. The Big Three will add more than 10,000 jobs combined in the next few years.
Finally the city is starting to see some movement; many of these jobs however couldn’t have come faster for an eager-to-work community.
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)