Discovering and applying new and innovative economic development tools, models, policies, and programs
Creating Jobs and Wealth in Distressed Michigan Communities

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Rita Fields is a professor, consultant and economic developer who began her journey as a homeless high school dropout with no hope and no vision for her future. Today, she has visited six continents and explored the nuances of culture in the context of leadership, is a consistently sought after consultant and public speaker recognized as a seasoned expert in human capital, and is a trusted confidant who skillfully navigates complex issues. 

This video highlights Rita's project as an Innovation Fellow, highlighting her findings and experiences studying Detroit's underground economy. The underground economy consists of individuals who have businesses, but have not registered them officially and may not pay taxes, however, they are still selling valuable services or products. Rita advises economic developers on ways to create policies and practices that are inclusive of people in the underground economy, ultimately giving them the opportunity to transition over to a more traditional business structure. The goal of Rita's research is to help to create an environment that will allow members of the underground economy to be included in the revitalization of the City of Detroit.