Ann Arbor: Model for ‘Start-up’ Cities

Go Lean Commentary

Imagine a university with 75,000 students, faculty and staff. That is a whole city in itself.

This is not make-believe; this is the City of Ann Arbor, in the US State of Michigan. When you visit this city, you would not know when the university begins and the city ends; or when the city begins and the university ends. [33]

CU Blog - Ann Arbor - Model of a Start-up City - Photo 2Ann Arbor is a principal city in Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County.[5] The 2010 census recorded its population to be 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan.[6] The city is also part of the larger Detroit–Ann Arbor–Flint, MI Combined Statistical Area. (Source:,_Michigan)

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and 43,625 students; it is one of the foremost research universities in the United States. The university shapes Ann Arbor’s economy significantly as it employs about 30,000 workers, including about 12,000 in the medical center. The city’s economy is also centered on high technology, with several companies drawn to the area by the university’s research and development money, and by its graduates.[8]

The City of Ann Arbor was founded in 1824, named for wives of the village’s founders and the stands of Bur Oak trees.[7] The University of Michigan moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor in 1837, and the city showed steady growth throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. During the 1960s and 1970s, the city gained a reputation as a center for left-wing politics. Ann Arbor became a focal point for political activism and served as a hub for the civil-rights movement and anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as various student movements.

The idea of impactful cities aligns with the book Go Lean…Caribbean in stressing the elevation of the societal engines through entrepreneurial endeavors. The book asserts that Caribbean society can be elevated by improving the eco-system to live, work, learn and play. This is the example of Ann Arbor. This point is strongly conveyed in this following news article/profile entitled “Ann Arbor – Start-up City” about the city in the In-flight Magazine for Delta Airlines: Sky (Published January 2015; retrieved 04-17-2015 from

CU Blog - Ann Arbor - Model of a Start-up City - Photo 1

Click on the Photo/Article to Enlarge

Go Lean blog commentaries have chronicled a lot of the travails of the State of Michigan and its principle City of Detroit. The metropolitan areas were rocked during the Great Recession of 2008, with Detroit eventually having to file a municipal bankruptcy to reorganize it’s finances. Despite all the economic dysfunction in the region, the foregoing article relates how the City of Ann Arbor thrived, not just because of it’s college-town status – see Appendix-VIDEO but also because of its entrepreneurial ethos and incubation of companies-industries related to Internet & Communications Technologies (ICT).

The cause-and effect of the Great Recession was a great motivation for the composition of the Go Lean book; its 370-pages now serve as a roadmap detailing how the Caribbean can elevate its community by leaning-in to optimizations for the region’s economic, security and governing engines. The roadmap calls for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This technocratic agency will do the heavy-lifting of executing this roadmap; the prime directives are stated as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean book stresses industrial incubation, which generally refers to the practice of working with “early bird” innovators to exploit business opportunities in certain nascent industries. Ann Arbor has done this, and thusly provide a fitting model for Caribbean communities.

The Go Lean roadmap declares that the region needs “all hands on deck” to model the positive examples of Ann Arbor and other innovative communities. Education is key, as Ann Arbor is a college-town. The correlation is very direct: to create a plethora of new jobs, it is necessary to forge genius, innovation and participation in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM). The book relates that many people can develop the appropriate genius qualifiers with strenuous incentives and fostering on the community level. These points are pronounced early in the following statements in the book’s Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13 & 14):

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxv. Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary and fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated as proactive and reactive measures

xxx. Whereas the effects of globalization can be felt in every aspect of Caribbean life, from the acquisition of food and clothing, to the ubiquity of ICT, the region cannot only consume, it is imperative that our lands also produce and add to the international community, even if doing so requires some sacrifice and subsidy.

CU Blog - Ann Arbor - Model of a Start-up City - Photo 3The Go Lean roadmap accepts that change has come to the global marketplace, due mostly to the convergence of Internet & Communications Technology (ICT). The book posits that size no longer matters, that from any location – like Ann Arbor in the photos here – innovative solutions can be developed and promoted to an appreciative audience. What matters most is the innovation, not the location; so any Caribbean member-state, large or small can be impactful. The first requirement is the community ethos of valuing intellectual property. This ethos would be new for the Caribbean market; it is therefore a mission of the CU to forge.

The Go Lean book posits that the technocratic facilitations to drive innovation may be too big for any one Caribbean member-state to invest alone, rather the collaboration efforts of the CU is necessary, as the strategy is to confederate all the 30 member-states of the Caribbean into an integrated “single market” to allow for better leverage and incubation.

The CU is designed to do the heavy-lifting of organizing and optimizing the Caribbean for this proposed-improved environment. The following list details the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster this environment:

Community Ethos – Forging Change Page 20
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Anecdote – Valedictorian Experience Page 38
Strategy – Strategy – Caribbean Vision Page 45
Strategy – Agents of Change – Technology Page 57
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Education Department Page 73
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Patent, Standards, and Copyrights Page 78
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 103
Implementation – Capital District Requirements – like Ann Arbor Page 110
Planning  – Lessons from 2008 Page 136
Planning  – Lessons from Detroit Page 140
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street Page 201
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Electronic Commerce Page 204
Advocacy – Ways to Battle Poverty – Entrepreneurial Values Page 222
Appendix – Job Multipliers Page 259

The Go Lean roadmap asserts that one individual or community can make a difference in the quest to elevate Caribbean society – the promoters of Go Lean have come to Ann Arbor to observe and report on their progress. We want the same outcomes by fostering genius qualifiers in our region; we therefore need impactful college-towns in the Caribbean. Colleges and universities can foster more innovators as there is a need for many contributors. This is true of Metropolitan Michigan / Greater Detroit / Ann Arbor and true for the Caribbean region.  These points have been frequently conveyed in previous blogs/commentaries. Consider this sample here:

How One Entrepreneur Can Rally a Whole Community
The City of Santa Clara – A ‘Team Effort’ for Progress
Detroit to exit historic Bankruptcy and start the turn-around
Role Model Shaking Up the World of Cancer
Michigan Unemployment – Then and Now
e-Commerce Role Model Jack Ma brings Alibaba to America
The Lion King’s Julie Taymor – Role Model for the Arts
Philadelphia City Model – Taking the lead for freedom
Role Model Berry Gordy – No Town Like Motown
Bob Marley: The Role Model’s legend lives on!

The Go Lean/CU roadmap presents the change that will come to the Caribbean. The people, institutions and governance of the region are all urged to “lean-in” to this roadmap for empowerment. We know there can be many towns in the Caribbean region that can model Ann Arbor. They are waiting to be fostered and nurtured to impact the Caribbean’s Greater Good.


Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – VIDEO: Explore Ann Arbor –

Published on May 16, 2013 – The journey is college, Ann Arbor the destination. Place no limits on your Michigan experience. From the nightlife of Main Street to the glowing skies over Barton, go out and #exploreA2.
Produced by Filmic Productions, 2013
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