Blog: Deborah Groban Olson

Attorney Deborah Groban Olson will discuss efforts to combine local talent with intellectual property resources to create green businesses. Deborah is the executive director of Detroit's Center for Community-Based Enterprise, whose goal is to turn the city into a national model for locally-owned sustainable businesses. She also enjoys making maple syrup.

Deborah Groban Olson - Post 2: Community Based Enterprise Speaker Series

Catalyzing change: Community Based Enterprise Speaker Series

The Center for Community Based Enterprise, Inc. (C2BE) is organizing a speaker series to provide metro Detroiters with concrete examples of community-based business methods used to build sustainable economies in challenging circumstances.

Our aim is to catalyze similar development efforts by expanding the knowledge, skills, and organizing capacity of local people and organizations, and to help them build connections with people and resources needed to make these enterprises successful. The series is sponsored by the Skillman Foundation and Detroit LISC and focused on the special needs of the communities served by Skillman and LISC. Listed below are four of the events. To get updates on final locations and speakers, please see C2BE's website.

May 1: Youth Entrepreneurship and Education at the Freedom Institute’s Freedom Weekend (unconfirmed):  

Presenting community-based enterprises currently being developed in and around schools by young entrepreneurs, and programs that involve young people in solving business problems.

Location: Cobo Hall

May 28 at 6 P.M.: Creating a Community-Based Supermarket in the Detroit Food Desert

  • Jeff Brown, owner of successful, community oriented Shop-Rite   supermarkets in Philadelphia
  • Charles Walker, current manager of Detroit eastside Save-a-Lot and prospective CEO of the Detroit Supermarket Task Force’s first store;
  • Margaret Garry, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Detroit supermarket project
  • Wendell Young IV, president, UFCW Local 1776 in Philadelphia Location (in the neighborhood where the Supermarket Task Force has decided to locate its first store) 
Co-sponsored by the Detroit Supermarket Task Force, MOSES and UFCW Statewide Community Development.

June 18 or 19 evening: 21st Century Farming - Maximizing Crop Yield on Small Plots

Speaker: Elliot Coleman (invited), author of A Garden for All Seasons, keynote address at conference for urban gardeners and farmers.

Location: Wayne State University

Co-sponsored by The Greening of Detroit.

Sept. 9 at 6:00 p.m. : Successful, Large Community-Based Enterprise and the Future of Detroit

Speaker: Deborah Groban Olson, employee ownership attorney & C2BE executive director, will describe and show a film on successful European industrial co-operative communities arising from circumstances at least as challenging as those currently facing Detro. She will also discuss the skill and knowledge resources available in southeast Michigan, and how they can be redeployed to create a vibrant, locally-rooted economy.

Location: (TBD)

A “community-based enterprise” (CBE) is a locally owned for-profit or non-profit business enterprise with a sustainable revenue model, intentionally structured to create community benefits, and to be “rooted” in a specific community through its ownership structure, business model, by-laws, or cultural norms. Community-based enterprise has resulted in multi-billion dollar economies in the Basque region of Spain and the Bologna area of Italy, both of which suffered from extreme disinvestment before residents adopted CBE strategies.  There are also examples in the U.S.

For more information contact Deborah Groban Olson at or 313-331-7821.