By Vickie Thomas

DETROIT (WWJ) –  It’s a campaign to bring people — specific people — back to Detroit.

Organizers of the invitation-only “Detroit Homecoming” conference are counting on the city still running through the blood of a few hundred “expats” as they’re calling them, to the point that they’ll want to come back home for two days this September.

On the list are billionaires, CEOs, and sports stars.

“We have an invitation list of about 400 very successful people who run companies or are big in their field in entertainment all over the country; and literally all over the world,” said Mary Kramer, publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, which is backing the effort.

(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

“We’re using that list that has been built by the colleges and universities in this area — all the college presidents  have been involved in this, personally reaching out to alumni to say, ‘Come back for 48 hours; that’s all we’re asking.'”

A message on the event’s website reads:

“It’s about time to come home, to see the real Detroit. The Detroit Homecoming offers new opportunities to reconnect, recharge, reinvest. That’s why a coalition of partners invites you to participate in the two-day event Sept. 17-19, 2014.

We want to bring ‘expatriates’ — whether they were born in Detroit or attended school in the region — back to the city to explore the opportunities to invest, engage and reshape the city and its story in its post-bankruptcy era. We have invited key local executives, investors, entrepreneurs and grassroots leaders to meet you.

Together, we’ll learn about the new Detroit narrative and experience and visit places in Detroit otherwise difficult for out-of-towners to access on a quick trip home.”

(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

During “Detroit Homecoming” weekend, native Detroiters will hear from Gov. Rick Snyder, Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures founder Dan Gilbert, Mayor Mike Duggan, and others.

What would Duggan say to those considering making the trip?

“I think, I would say, for everybody whose still got Detroit in their heart…come back for a weekend and see what’s going on, and you might decide to stay,” Duggan said.

Jim Hayes, a retired publisher of Fortune Magazine, and co-director of Detroit Homecoming, moved back to Detroit from Colorado last year.


“Well, I wanted to get involved in what’s going on in Detroit, and I also have some family here,” Hayes told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas. “But the principle reason was I think what’s going on here is so exciting, so important, so interesting, and I wanted to find some small role…and, here we are.”

The conference will take place Sept. 17-19, 2014. Visit for more information.





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