Blog: John Heiss

John Weiss is the founder of the Social Ventures Network of Southeast Michigan and a long time advocate for food security. John seeks to merge for-benefit and for-profit models together to foster long-term, sustainable development in metro Detroit.  Read his thoughts and join the conversation!

Post No. 1


Entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits because of rights, or by agreement through law. It also refers, in a more casual sense to someone’s belief that he or she deserves some particular reward or benefit. The Johnson Administration issued the legal term in 1965. By 2006, approximately 2/3 of the Federal Budget consisted of entitlement benefits.  

Entrepreneurs are people who take risks and assume responsibility. They have traditionally been cast as business owners, but now include those who do not own their own business, though one could argue that the vast 1099 workforce of consultants is a clear manifestation of entrepreneurial talent and spirit. Entrepreneurs embrace change; seek and pursue opportunities; and pursue life-long learning.  

Our region is at a critical crossroads. Institutions of the public sector, the US Automobile Industry and trade labor unions conspired to create some of the most dynamic economic growth in history during the early to mid-20th Century. The three-way alliance unfortunately transformed into it’s opposite, from entrepreneurial to entitlement mentality. Other models like the Toyota Production Network challenged and eventually surpassed our domestic producers. Working for a big company and belonging to a big union provided temporary safety and security. It also discouraged corporate and personal ingenuity or innovation. Michigan ranks 34th in the nation in number of graduates of 4-year colleges – arguably the best indicator of future personal income. The sector shifted and this region has not been able to pivot to that shift.  

Our regional economy is in the toilet, but that is a great opportunity for wild and crazy ideas – cultural-oriented development, transportation-oriented development, radical transformation in human capital formation. The two former categories are winning strategies in all regions of the globe and we need to push ideas like Museum Campuses, Arts Incubators, International Welcome Centers, but also look at a radical reform of Pre K-12 education, life-long learning and social innovations. This is the intersection of Non-Governmental Organizations, Entrepreneurism and Ingenuity. One instrumentality of this change is the Social Innovation Ventures Network (SIVN). Our Network of non-profits, banks, law firms and business owners boldly declares ourselves the agents of entrepreneurial change that extends to each and every community. 

Interested in learning more about SIVN? Email John at and join the organization's Google group.