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Special Edition: 2014 Detroit Policy Conference

Buzz Around City’s Next Chapter Palpable at 2014 Detroit Policy Conference

Approximately 800 attendees came together for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2014 Detroit Policy Conference to focus on Detroit’s next chapter. Bringing nationally renowned keynotes and nearly 40 of the region’s most dynamic leaders to the forefront of Detroit revitalization discussions, the Conference sparked dynamic dialogue on the future of The Motor City’s business landscape. The day started with a video featuring Detroit leaders depicted in the September/October Detroiter magazine and concluded with a reception with the new City Council.

The Conference featured The Detroit Experience in the ballroom, where exhibitors highlighted the organizations and initiatives contributing to Detroit’s transformation as well as onsite broadcasts from WJR’s Frank Beckmann Show and Detroit Public Television’s MiWeek. The Chamber would like to thank platinum sponsors, MotorCity Casino Hotel and Opportunity Detroit. For a full list of sponsors, click here.

Urban Artist Candy Chang Illustrates the Effectiveness of Art to Solidify a Community

A city’s buildings and structures can serve a greater purpose than visual effects – they can enhance togetherness in a community and empower residents. That was the picture painted by Candy Chang, senior TED fellow and urban artist and designer.

Chang discussed the power of creativity in public spaces in the nourishment of peoples’ personal well-being. By introducing various projects from throughout her career, such as her “Before I die, I want to…” initiative, Chang illustrated to attendees the impact of simple, anonymous projects. Artwork has the ability to unite strangers and provide everyone with a voice to strengthen communities. To view video of Chang’s presentation, click here.

Chamber Announces Partnership with Startgrid, NEI Grant to Launch Entrepreneurial Program

The Chamber announced its partnership with Startgrid in launching a collaborative community for entrepreneurs to come together to test, share and grow ideas that will change the world. The launch came with the news of a $100,000 grant from the New Economy Initiative to support the effort.

To introduce Startgrid, Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah was joined on stage by Peter Gardner, CEO of Startgrid; Benjamin Erulkar, vice president of economic development – new development strategies at the Chamber; and Dave Egner, executive director of the NEI. Startgrid offers businesses a place to develop ideas among people who understand entrepreneurship, collaborate with trusted experts and friends to build ventures, and meet people who can help expand ideas. To learn more about the program, click here.

Shaping the Future: Despite Challenges, Detroit Has Resources to Write Strong Next Chapter

There isn’t a city in the country poised for growth and comeback like Detroit. That was the inspirational message gleaned from the Conference’s closing panel discussion, “Shaping the Future: Detroit’s Next Chapter.”

The panel emphasized the importance of placing an equal premium on business startups as well as existing companies, and the notion that, while politics is key, the “business as usual” approach should no longer be a part of the city’s governance. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, panelists agreed that Detroit has the resources to write an impressive next chapter over the course of five years and beyond. The panelists were Dave Egner, executive director of NEI; Don Graves, executive director of President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness; Dan Kinkead, director of projects of Detroit Future City; and Thomas Sugrue, David Boies professor of history and sociology. The discussion was moderated by Christy McDonald, anchor of DPTV’s MiWeek. To view clips from this session, click here.

Urban Expert Thomas Sugrue Challenges Traditional Rhetoric on Detroit Revitalization To come up with effective solutions for Detroit’s future, it is imperative that the city’s origins are understood. Thomas Sugrue, David Boies professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, made that point to the audience as he delved into the historical circumstances that eventually led to Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Sugrue provided general principles to illustrate common misconceptions about urban revitalization and offered solutions for Detroit’s continued transformation. He stressed the importance of a diverse labor market with well-paying and secure jobs, reduced barriers to education and densification of the city. Sugrue encouraged the community to nurture institutions and universities, embrace immigrants, and make exerted regional collaboration efforts as solutions to bolster Detroit’s economic growth. To view video of Sugrue’s presentation, click here.

Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson Touts Economic and Social Benefits of Higher Education

The social mobility made possible by a college education is the key to a strong middle class, and the gateway to the American Dream. That point was emphasized by Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson during his keynote address at the Conference. In addition to identifying career advancement and expansive networks as benefits of higher education, Wilson demonstrated the socioeconomic impact that university research can have on a community, including millions of dollars’ worth of economic impact and hundreds of thousands of dollars in state tax revenue.

Wilson spoke of Detroit’s residents and resources playing a role in the city’s transformation, including the impact made by public universities. He urged attendees to use education to change the city; to leverage university resources and unleash them to most effectively attract talent and investment to the region. To view video, click here.

Additional Conference Sessions

Chief Craig, Community Leaders Highlight Community and Re-Invention as Keys to Revitalization of Detroit’s Neighborhoods

Small Business Growth the Focus of “Breaking the Mold: The Entrepreneur’s Business Plan”

Detroit’s Transformation Highlighted in “The Detroit Investment: The Smart Bet”

Panelists: Moving Detroit Forward Requires Regional Collaboration

Local Entrepreneurs Discuss Resources Available to Detroit Small Businesses

Leaders Make Business Case for Detroit’s Diverse Industries