DETROIT, July 14, 2014 — Detroit’s business community is recruiting. An elite host committee of local leaders are digging in their address books and old yearbooks looking for “expats”—people who were born in Detroit or attended school in the region—to come back to their hometown to reconnect, recharge and reinvest.
The invitation-only Detroit Homecoming will be held Sept. 17-19. The agenda is filled with unique experiences such as dinner in the not-yet-open David Whitney Building on Grand Circus Park, tours throughout the city, dinner inside the refurbished Globe Outdoor Activities Center on Detroit’s riverfront and a concert on the stage at Chene Park. All the activities have one goal in mind: to show off possibilities in Detroit.
At a kickoff news conference today at Lowe Campbell Ewald, Mayor Mike Duggan said, “Detroit needs jobs and investment. It also needs people with influence to be ambassadors. But until today, no one has focused on a key resource: people who call Detroit their hometown but now live elsewhere. Detroit Homecoming will provide exactly the right motivation our city needs to bring native Detroiters back home to be a part of the city’s revitalization.”
“I’m an expat,” said Jim Hayes, retired publisher of FORTUNE and co-director of the Homecoming. He returned to Detroit last year. “Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been endlessly impressed by the opportunities for investment and engagement. We’re going to dazzle these folks who haven’t been here in a while. They’ll be stunned to see how dramatically Detroit is changing for the better.”
With a goal of 150 expats and two months to go, more than 70 people have already expressed interest in coming back to Detroit for the event. They include billionaires, sports stars, company presidents, venture capitalists, journalists and entertainers.
Homecoming Host Committee members range from university presidents to business leaders like General Motors’ Mary Barra, entrepreneurs Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert and Ilitch Holding’s Christopher Ilitch to community leaders like Rip Rapson of the Kresge Foundation and Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation. Cynthia Pasky and the Downtown Detroit Partnership are helping to coordinate efforts.
“This is not a typical business conference,” said Mary Kramer, publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business and co-director of the event. “It’s not open to the general public because we are creating an intimate event for a small number of people. But we are tapping local ‘doers’ to meet and mingle throughout.
“We are going to continually encourage our attendees to think of ways they can make a difference in their hometown. They will be introduced to people, from entrepreneurs to moguls, who are doing great things in the city. All the while, they will be encouraged to get involved.”
This will be the first in a series of annual Homecomings and is the initial step in an ongoing effort to engage expatriates in the work of rebuilding Detroit.
During the event, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Quicken Loans Chairman and Founder Dan Gilbert, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Eli Broad, Bloomberg L.P. CEO and President Dan Doctoroff, Capri Capital Co-Founder Quintin Primo III, General Motors CEO Mary Barra and others will address the influential group.
For more information on Detroit Homecoming, visit www.detroithomecoming.com. The event is not open to the public.