From Kevin Johnson, President and CEO
Five years ago, our friends at Crain Communications had a terrific idea to invite folks with a connection to Detroit to engage with the city in a tangible way – through social and financial opportunities. Founders Jim Hayes and Mary Kramer, with the support of the Crain family, have turned Detroit Homecoming into a celebration of everything that is great about our city.
This year’s homecoming theme, Detroit Made, highlighted the city’s change-makers and entrepreneurial spirit. Highlights of the event included an opening reception at the new Ilitch School of Business, dinner on the center floor of Little Caesars Arena, house parties throughout Detroit’s neighborhoods, and mashup meetings inside the new Lexus Velodrome.
The expat audience connected with the city’s most-inspiring leaders and grassroots doers. While certainly a lot of fun, the event was much more than a feel-good reunion. To date, more than $300 million in investments can be tracked to former Detroiters who reconnected and reinvested in their hometown.
I was thrilled to participate in Detroit Homecoming in two ways. On Sept. 12, I had the good fortune to moderate the Real Estate Forum, Real Estate 101 in the D, at the iconic Fisher Building. The panelists included Aaron Seybert from The Kresge Foundation, Gary Torgow from Chemical Bank and the Sterling Group, and Woodborn Partners’ Clifford Brown.
Much of the discussion focused on the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, its impact on the city and its residents, and resulting opportunities for developers. It was a powerful conversation filled with real solutions for bringing prosperity to Detroit’s neighborhoods. Even without words, the panel made a statement. Represented on one stage and working collaboratively were a mix of public and private interests. That’s why Detroit is changing. It is one city, pulling together – pulling forward. As Gary said, “Something magical is happening in Detroit.”
The next day, I was equally thrilled to attend Motor City Mashup, which allowed me to meet a host of investors and developers interested in doing business in Detroit.
Detroit Homecoming is nothing short of brilliant. It is simple in its mission and pure in its goal: Invite people to connect in a way that makes Detroit a better place to live and work. I can’t imagine a single Detroiter – past or present – who wouldn’t say yes to an invitation like that.
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