That’s the central question we wanted to answer. We were five women representing vastly different organizations – Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation being one of them – sitting in Cultivate’s beer garden in Summer 2018, relishing a Vitamin D bath while we pondered: Where is investment capital going in Washtenaw County, and why doesn’t it seem to be finding its way into some of the seemingly undercapitalized corners and nooks of our county’s footprint? Not only where is it going, but how do we change the flow of that river?
Like engineers studying the work of beavers, we set out on a mission of discovery to gather whatever information and sentiments we could that summer. We wanted to test a couple of theories about how we could improve our county’s flow, so the river teamed with fish, enough fish for everyone to eat well, be healthy, and prosper. Too much metaphor here? I like metaphors, so forgive me. They help me visualize what we’re talking about, in a world where finance has become so abstract that we’re not even sure what money is anymore.
All this discovery about whether potential solutions could work in our market led us back to the original question – where is all the money going? If our teams worked only off assumptions and anecdotes, we’d run the risk of developing solutions that are skewed by our own biases. Ironically, our region is in the midst of United Way’s 21-Day Equity Challenge as I write this, which is unabashedly pointing out how fallible we humans are, so this was the danger of jumping to solutions without data to affirm or oppose our assumptions.
So, what is the strategy for choosing the right solutions? Survey every investor we can who is or could be investing in Washtenaw County businesses and nonprofits – from top to bottom, from institutions to individuals, from wealthy to not wealthy. The only way to know where the money is going is to ask every person with an investment cent to their name. Enter this critical initiative, led by Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, who has commissioned Revalue and local research institution, EntryPoint, to do precisely that.
All this background leads me to today – January 21st, 2020. A landmark day. Today, the first investor survey goes out to the public at large. Yep, that’s the link right there. Go ahead. You know you want to click on it to answer the survey. I’ll wait….
So, back to our original question – where is all the money going? Wouldn’t we all like to know? Well, we’ll share that with you once we know. Stay tuned.