Alright, RoboCop is officially happening. This morning the Kickstarter campaign met the $50,000 necessary to erect such a statue. There have been arguments left and right in the city as to the worthiness of such an endeavor: RoboCop represents a film portraying a terrible Detroit! Why spend $50k on RoboCop statue and not tackle something like the education system!? And then, of course, there is the fanatical fan base that passionately supports such a creature: It’s fun, lighten up a little bit! It’s a bunch of people coming together to crowd source public art! Well, whatever the case. The statue is going up. Let’s make some lemonade out of lemons with this RoboCreature.

First, as crazy this may sound, there are probably a lot of people that will come to Detroit to see the statue of RoboCop. Let’s just play a little numbers game here. There were 1,413 people that pledged money for the project. I went through looking at the characteristics of the contributors, and roughly 1/5 of the backing populous is from out of state– and probably many more based on Kickstarter profiles who don’t list where the person lives. So, that’s 282 people that gave money to this project that don’t live in Detroit who probably want to catch a glimpse of Robo in the flesh when he is built. Now, if those 282 people, through the course of their visit, spend $100 locally (which is a conservative sum even with hotel, food and entertainment), that’s nearly $30k in resources poured in to the local economy. Sure, that’s really not a lot of money, but the multiplier effect of such activity could get exciting. What if that amount of people come per month? Well, that could very possibly mean a quarter of a million greenbacks dumped in to the local economy. And right now, that is a lot. Perhaps the Imagination Station folks might see some benefit to pointing future RoboTourists to various locales in Detroit and using the statue as a starting point to better things. If RoboMonster starts opening people’s eyes to the more redeeming sides of Detroit, well, then hey. Job well done.

Second, as silly as RoboCop might seem, it provides a pretty compelling case of possibility in Detroit. Can’t you hear it now? “You’re telling me you can’t raise $20k for this project and that moustached Paffendorf got $50k in the bank for ROBOCOP?!” There’s a real good chance RoboCop is going to push people in the direction of getting more and more creative with how they fund projects and ideas in Detroit. It’s no secret that the city is a little less resource-stocked than other places, so anything creative with fundraising is something that could take us all a long way. There are something like 18,000 non-profits in Wayne County alone (that has to be more per capita than most counties) that are fighting for money with the same tired models. Perhaps Robo can present some interesting solutions for how meaningful endeavors can be funded in the city, which eventually leads to a more productive city.

Other RoboLinks:

Thoughtful commentary against Robo: Supergay Detroit
Thoughtful comments for Robo: My Dear Detroit
Unveiling of the RoboSuccess news: MLive, Jeff Wattrick
And someone else just chimed in with RoboSuccess: The Detroit News