Five buses packed with Michigan’s best and brightest graduating college seniors poured into Detroit, most impressed with the opportunities they had previously been unaware of. The journey came days after census data showed the city had lost 25 percent of its population. But then again, 20-somethings are known for “going the other way’’ and spotting opportunities their elders miss.
LiveWorkDetroit is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s new focus on attracting and retaining talent from more than 20 colleges.
“Our goal is to attract, retain and develop talent,” said Amy Cell, MEDC senior vice president, talent enhancement.
“Retaining our college graduates is a top priority of our team and of the MEDC. This will be the first of many programs and initiatives to connect Michigan students with great places to live and work.”
Participants arrived at the Fillmore Theater at 10 a.m. and were welcomed by Stefanie Ridenour (program manager for MEDC’s Talent Enhancement program), Shannon Holmes (chief of staff for Mayor Dave Bing), Quantez Pressley and Bryan Barnhill (office of Detroit City Councilman Charles Pugh), and Jennifer Berkemeier (Fillmore Detroit).
Throughout the day, students toured the best places to live, work and play in the city with Inside Detroit, a nonprofit local tour company.
Stops included the Guardian Building, the Heidelberg art project, R. Hirt Jr. grocery store in the Eastern Market, Willy’s Overland Lofts, Avalon Bakery, Bureau of Urban Living, Belle Isle, Earthworks Urban Farm, City Bird, and the Lofts at Merchant Row. Participants enjoyed a lunch break and tour of the Detroit Institute of Arts, where they heard from Sue Mosey, president of the University Cultural Center Association.
Students, many from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, repeated a similar mantra: they had been to Detroit before to attend concerts or sporting events but had no idea just how much the city has to offer.
“The passion of the people in Detroit was very impressive,” said Jeremiah Rivera, a political science student at Michigan State University. “They had the LiveWorkDetroit participants very excited.” Following the Inside Detroit tour, participants converged on the Compuware building for a networking event with employers from Quicken Loans, General Electric, Compuware, GalaxE.Solutions, My- InsuranceExpert.com, Franco Public Relations, Marketing Associates, Honigman, Berg Muirhead, Crain Communications, Digitas, Chrysler, First Element Entertainment and Illitch Holdings.
Detroit boosters Dan Gilbert (founder and chairman, Quicken Loans) and Peter Karmanos (CEO, Compuware) kicked off a line-up of speakers, all of them young Detroiters, that included Hostel Detroit founder Emily Doerr and Bickbot.com founder Henry Balanon. Reactions from students, partners and employers were overwhelmingly positive. Whether the students had never been to Detroit before or were looking at the city from a fresh perspective, they couldn’t stop talking about how worthwhile LiveWorkDetroit is.