Detroit Homecoming brings accomplished expats back to city

In September, Detroit hosted a group of successful former Detroiters, or expats, at an event called Detroit Homecoming. The event was organized by Mary Kramer, publisher of Crain's Detroit Business, with a lot of help from others at Crain's and a coalition of community partners. The idea was simple: invite highly accomplished ex-Detroiters back to see the progress of their former city and encourage them to invest in Detroit's future.

More than 150 accomplished expats came, including a number of Wayne State alumni, and I think all were amazed by the energy and potential of Detroit. Among those we welcomed home were entrepreneurs, CEOs, artists and entertainers - very successful people who are not easily impressed. But Detroit is a much different city than the one they recalled.

I was on the host committee, which included Wayne Law alumnus Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske, Al Taubman, WSU alumnus and Lear CEO Matt Simoncini, and Mayor Duggan. The list of speakers was equally impressive, with big names such as Warren Buffet and Eli Broad. Many people worked hard to create an energizing, fascinating three days of presentations, tours and social events. Just to give you a sample, I want to share this interview of Warren Buffet, conducted by Dan Gilbert. It's not too often you get to watch conversations like this. But even considering the time and effort that went into the event, the one thing that made it all possible is what's happening in Detroit right now.

Not long ago, Detroit Homecoming would not have been possible. But resilience, vision, investment and collaboration are paying off, and this was evident to our guests. I was personally able to host Tom Tierney, a WSU alumnus and president of Vitatech Nutritional Sciences Inc., a very successful California-based company. I think Tom and his wife, Elizabeth, were amazed by their visit to Detroit. I took the opportunity to give them a tour of Wayne State, and though I may be a bit biased, I believe they were equally impressed by our campus.

Detroit and Wayne State University have been inextricably linked since our founding in 1868. Detroit is on the move, people are beginning to notice and we're right in the middle of it all. The expats felt it, the neighborhood feels it and the business community supports it - even the press is saying good things about Detroit. This is a time of opportunity for our city and our university, and I'm excited by the possibilities - let's take advantage of them. Wayne State, in the heart of Detroit, is a great place to earn a degree, join a great faculty, conduct research, visit a museum and even attend a football game, so let's tell the world. Let's issue our own invitations - as broadly as we can - to be part of this growing success. Let's welcome new students, faculty and visitors to our campus, and let them feel the pride we have in our great university and our vibrant city.

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