OffMarket – Detroit, Michigan – Barger Leadership Institute

OffMarket – Detroit, Michigan

By Jacob Behrmann

After interning in the City of Detroit for the last two summers, I knew that I wanted to pursue an idea that allowed me to continue similar work in the City, the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI) Small Grant has allowed my group and I to do just this.

Our project, OffMarket, centered around building software that would scrape data off of the internet to identify distressed properties in the City of Detroit that may be attractive to either non-profit or for-profit entities. Our hope is that these entities would then use the software to acquire and redevelop these distressed properties to increase positive property density in Detroit.

The experience BLI helped to facilitate affected my view of leadership by creating new ideas such as leadership is a multifaceted platform where there can be multiple leaders. For example, our project team consisted of two other University of Michigan students, we had to agree upon decisions and come to mutual agreements on how to successfully proceed. Through this open communication channel, we knew regardless of who made the end decision, we could always share our thoughts.

This is experience helped me grow as a leader in numerous ways. One of these ways was interacting with different stakeholders for our project. To progress on our project, we hired a Computer Science Engineer at UM. We had to diligently work with him during our weekly meetings. I was able to grow as a leader because I learned new ways to communicate successfully with people who were part of the project, and also effectively lead others to have a successful outcome.

Leadership and teamwork go hand in hand. It does not matter if there is one project leader and many participants, or the group has all project leaders, everyone must always work together. This was a common theme throughout our summer project. We constantly stressed teamwork. We did this by always having an open channel of communication to share any idea, creating a sense of community/teamwork for our contractor, and also understanding everyone’s responsibilities.

Our group is thankful for the opportunity the Barger Leadership Institute awarded us and plan to continue pursuing projects in the City of Detroit.

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