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Lineup unveiled for third Detroit Homecoming

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — A theme of creativity will be the focal point of this fall’s Detroit Homecoming, a program crafted to attract expatriates and investment.

Key speakers expected at the invitation-only, three-day event that runs Sept. 14-16, are former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer as well as Tony Fadell, a founder of the iPod and founder of NEST, officials announced during a Monday news conference at Museum of Contemporary Art on Woodward.

Among the attendees will be Cass Technical High School and University of Michigan graduate and entrepreneur Shawn Ward, founder and CEO of Ward & Fifth Consulting, who plans to open a branch of his agency in Detroit’s Eastern Market and in September is launching Williamson Goods, a new business that will manufacture luxury sporting equipment.

Crain’s Detroit Business produces the event on behalf of civic leaders, foundations and corporate sponsors.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer

Since the homecoming event began in 2014, it has brought more than 300 expats with ties to Metro Detroit “home” to re-experience the city, organizers said. Detroit expats have committed investments of more than $260 million in city projects and businesses.

“It’s just amazing how far this has come,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday. “There is a feeling of hope in this city and what Homecoming weekend has done is find a way for everyone who still loves the city and wants to find a way to be part of it, this is a way to find your way back home.”

Homecoming will kick off this year at the Brewster-Wheeler Recreation Center, which is a “symbol of what Detroit was, how far it fell and how it’s coming back,” Duggan added.

Crain’s Detroit Business Publisher Mary Kramer on Monday said Homecoming will include city tours of technology, innovation, art and design, sports, entrepreneurship, neighborhoods and real estate. There also will be mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs and for the first time a Thanksgiving weekend job fair.

Gov. Rick Snyder is also expected to attend and present the Governor’s Arts Award to Oak Park native Jeffrey Seller, who produced the groundbreaking theatrical experience “Hamilton.”

Kramer also took the opportunity to unveil news for Crain’s that she called the “ultimate homecoming story.”

Ron Fournier

New York Times bestselling author and Detroit native Ron Fournier has been appointed associate publisher for Crain’s Detroit Business publication and website, effective Sept. 6.

Fournier currently is a senior political columnist at the Atlantic and the National Journal. He attended homecoming in 2014 and was a panelist in 2015.

“It is so important and exciting for our company to look at attracting talent like Ron’s to Crain’s Detroit Business,” Kramer said. “That’s what the Homecoming is all about.”