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

Learn More

2017: Social Entrepreneurship in Legacy Cities

Co-Learning Plan - 2017

Authors: Jason Ball and Steve Wolbert, Community Ventures and Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative


A functional definition of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise in the context of Michigan’s legacy cities is necessary for planning. To do this, the project will consist of research on at least five case studies of social enterprises in Michigan cities to illustrate the definition, as well as existing data on the performance of various businesses along a continuum of social enterprise to evaluate the business success and social impact of different approaches. This will allow an identification of existing resources related to economic development, workforce development, and social services that can support a social enterprise approach to economic development.

Project Updated As Of September 30th, 2017


Watch with accessible video player

Author Information

Jason BallJason Ball, Community Ventures and Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

Jason is an integrator. His expertise lies in working with visionaries and people passionate about their cause to develop plans, strategies, and the associated documentation that helps ideas come to life. Jason is an experienced facilitator and consultant, having worked with a wide range of nonprofits, universities, local governments, and state agencies to drive community and economic development projects throughout Michigan for nearly a decade. Prior to joining SIPI, Jason was the Director of Client Services for an economic development consulting firm in Lansing, which allowed him to serve several Flint organizations as a contractor.

Jason has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University and a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Grand Valley State University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has completed National Charrette Institute Certification. Jason has been a member of the Michigan Association of Planning's government relations committee for over five years, serving as Chair since 2014.

Steve WolbertSteve Wolbert, Community Ventures and Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

After working in outreach and fundraising capacities in the non-profit sector, Steve created an opportunity to assist a for profit company to move beyond "checkbook philanthropy" and into a more focused effort on how corporations can impact a community. Steve saw the impact this model of philanthropy can create by facilitating and implementing community partner driven projects at a "for profit pace." Steve was born and raised in Flint and recognizes the realities faced by the community over the last few decades and sees SIPI as a replicable solution in other legacy cities. Crediting Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries Inc., and Sr. Carol Weber, OP and Sr. Judy Blake, CSJ, foundresses of the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, for seeing an opportunity to help entrepreneurs use their gifts and talents to make an impact. Their approaches to alleviating poverty based on creating life changing job opportunities provides the perfect example of the type of high impact, systemic change SIPI hopes to make in people's lives. Steve's vision for SIPI is to see and provide hope where most aren't looking. When people ask him what SIPI is, his response is simple, "SIPI is a platform for change." Steve is a current board member of the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center and the past board president of Genesee County Habitat for Humanity. He, along with his father and Fr. Tom Firestone have facilitated Alternative Spring Break trips to Flint for the last 8 years, during which over 10,000 hours of service have been completed in the Flint community. He graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's degree in Community Relations and went on to obtain a Master's degree from St. Mary's University (Minnesota) in Philanthropy and Development.

Contact the Author

View the Report