Entrepreneurship is not just for 20-somethings. In fact people 55 and older are engaged in more entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, self-employed people 55 to 64 grew by 93,000 in 2009 and by 213,000 among people 65 and older.

Workers and retirees over the age of 50 are currently the fastest growing group seeking business and technology training here at Wayne State University’s TechTown.

To better accommodate and nurture this growing demographic, the Community Foundation for Southeast  Michigan brought us together with community partners Operation Able and the Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation to form BOOM! The New Economy back in January 2011.  This initiative provides adults 40 and older with training, resources, networking and volunteer opportunities to work with more than 250 start-up companies that are currently supported by our facilities and Wayne State University.

BOOM! The New Economy is creating a talent pool of Baby Boomer interns, mentors and entrepreneurs at TechTown who are redefining the meaning of retirement and re-entering the workforce.

“Through our work in economic development , we know how important it is to provide  training and employment  opportunities for people at every stage of life,” said Mariam Noland, President of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.  “The  older workers in our region are a tremendous asset.  The programs we support at TechTown help them retool and move forward with a second career as entrepreneurs, or as employees in the regions many business start ups.”

The trend at TechTown of older entrepreneurs  reflects a broader national shift in the U.S. workforce. On September 15 through 16, Wayne State University will welcome three recognized experts to discuss this “new normal” emerging among workers over 50 in Detroit and cities across the globe.

The 2011 Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS) will host the free daylong “Retirement in Transition:  Work, Relax or Reboot?” conference at Wayne State University’s Community Arts Auditorium in Detroit. A variety of speakers and panelist will be on-hand to discuss the changes facing the retiring American worker, the impact of this new reality on American society, and implications for colleges, non-profit organizations and businesses.

As the average age of southeast Michigan’s population steadily increases, Baby Boomers and older adults are vital to shaping and growing the future economy. Their professional and life experiences are helping drive their entrepreneurial success and, in the process, new jobs are being created for college graduates and young professionals.

To register for the September 15-16 FOCIS conference, please visit http://events.wayne.edu/rsvp/retirement-in-transition-work-relax-or-reboot-featuring-robert-reich.