July 14, 2014 at 7:07 pm

City to roll out red carpet during event to attract ex-Detroiters to rebuilding effort

Keith Crain, left, chairman of Crain Communications, Mayor Mike Duggan, Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, M. Roy Wilson of Wayne State University, Jim Hayes, retired publisher of Fortune magazine, announce the Detroit Homecoming initiative Monday at the Lowe Campbell Ewald advertising agency. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)

Detroit — Call them expats or members of the Detroit diaspora, but the city’s business community is looking for business leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities and movers and shakers with ties to the city to come back and help rebuild the D.

A host of local leaders, including Mayor Mike Duggan, Chris Ilitch of Ilitch Holdings and Keith Crain of Crain Communications, announced their Detroit Homecoming event at an early Monday morning press conference at the Lowe Campbell Ewald advertising agency by Ford Field.

“Detroit needs jobs and investment,” Duggan said. “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.”

The invitation-only Detroit Homecoming will be held Sept. 17-19 with a pull-out-all-the-stops agenda that includes tours throughout the city, a concert at Chene Park, dinner at the David Whitney Building and the Globe Building Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center.

According to Detroit Homecoming speaker Jim Hayes, more than 400 influential expats — “people who started here and then went on to fame and fortune elsewhere” — have been identified so far.

“We want to bring them back, educate them and then inspire them,” said Hayes, retired publisher of Fortune magazine.

The organizers of Detroit Homecoming are aiming their campaign at the elite: billionaires, sports stars, company presidents, venture capitalists, journalists and entertainers.

“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.

“We are going to continually encourage our attendees to think of ways they can make a difference in their hometown.”

Retired businessman Irwin Elson was impressed by what he heard Monday.

“I think this is the start of a lot of great ideas,” said Elson, former director of J & L America. “They are bringing things into focus; it’s going to be great.”

With a goal of attracting 150 expats, and with two months still to go, more than 70 people already have shown an interest in coming back to Detroit for the event.

For more information, go to www.detroithomecoming.com.

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