March 9, 2017

This nonprofit supports Detroit’s ‘creative economy’

Detroit Creative Corridor Center wants to make the Motor City a hub for design, creativity, and innovation

Detroit Creative Corridor Center supports Detroit's "creative economy.' Photo courtesy of Detroit Creative Corridor Center


Meet the finalists for The Atlantic’s Renewal Awards, underwritten by Allstate. These individuals are the forces behind the 25 nonprofits competing for $100,000 in grant money. Five winners will be announced March 30 at The Renewal Summit in Washington, on, and here, on The Renewal Project.

Olga Stella is the executive director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. Since 2000, she has been dedicated to Detroit’s creative, economic, and communal renewal.

At Detroit Creative Corridor Center, she provides support to the community’s designers and innovators, with an emphasis on driving small business growth, and sustainable and equitable development.

Follow Olga Stella on Twitter at @olgasstella, and follow Detroit Creative Corridor Center at @detroitcreative.

This questionnaire has been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your community:

My community are the people of the City of Detroit, the people who live, work, and invest in the city.

What inspired you to do this work?

I was inspired to do this work out of a sense of social justice and because it makes economic sense. All of our futures are constrained if we leave behind whole segments of our community.

What ways are you helping to make your community thrive?

I have dedicated my career to community and economic development in Detroit, working on a variety of neighborhood revitalization programs and job creation strategies. At Detroit Creative Corridor Center I’m working on ways Detroit’s creative industries can be a driver for sustainable and equitable development in our city. In particular, we’re lifting up the contributions of independent designers and small creative businesses in this work.

What do you love about your community?

Detroiters never give up. They work to solve their own problems instead of waiting for someone else to do it, and they keep at it, no matter how long it may take or insurmountable the odds may be.

What’s one thing you want outsiders to know about your community?

Detroit is full of talented people who have been doing amazing things for years, from the east side to the west side and down in southwest. There is a lot to be learned from them.

What leader or leaders inspired you?
On a daily basis, I am inspired by countless professional women around me and the many examples of their own leadership in challenging circumstances.

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor to The Renewal Project.