Some of them lived here decades ago, for others it has just been a couple of years. Some lived right in Detroit, others grew up in the ‘burbs. They are diverse in years, backgrounds, ethnicities, yet they have three very important things in common: 1. They have become successful in their chosen professions; 2. They consider the Detroit area home; 3. They are returning to attend an exciting, yet exclusive event, called Detroit Homecoming.

During the three-day, invite-only event, September 12-14, expats return to the city to hopefully be inspired to reinvest in the community that helped shape who they are. With a theme of Detroit Made, this year’s gathering will focus on celebrating the legacy and analyzing the future of Detroit as a hub for design, innovation, and manufacturing.

Organizers have invited nearly 50 local entrepreneurs, with the intent of matching expats up with these emerging businesses based on expertise and need. The opening reception is scheduled to take place at the new Ilitch School of Business followed by dinner on the floor of Little Caesar’s Arena.

Now in it’s fifth year, the homecoming concept was born back when the City of Detroit was struggling through bankruptcy. Oddly enough, it was founded by a native New Yorker. Jim Hayes, a veteran of the publishing industry, developed an affinity for the Motor City while working for  Sports Illustrated in Detroit. He approached friends at Crain’s Communications with the idea of bringing prominent ex-Detroiters back in the same way that colleges and universities welcome alumni back for homecoming weekends. His aim was to create a fun, interactive, results-oriented event, through which participants would re-engage in the community that helped launch their lives and careers.

The first event was so well received that it has become an annual endeavor, the results of which have been incredible. To date, according to organizers, there have been at least ten business expansions and relocations; twelve new ventures launched; twenty publicly announced real estate ventures; nineteen cases of pro bono consulting; and ten other business investments to the tune of over $212 million in total investments as a result of Detroit Homecoming events so far.

In fact, attendees are so encouraged to get involved that, in order to be invited back, they have to document what they have done to benefit Detroit as a result of attending a previous event.

Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of this celebration is all the brainpower, creativity, and passion that gathers in one place, and then hones in on Michigan’s most economically significant locale. The initiatives that result each year, are very much dependent upon who happens to show up, or sit next to each other, or share an idea at any given moment.

Though the event ramins invite-only, the public will be able to stream it live for a portion of each day by visiting or or

Wednesday, September 12th: 7–9 PM
Thursday, September 13th: 9:30–11:30 AM
Friday, September 14th, 8:30–11:30 AM

Streaming isn’t the only way to get involved. If you know someone who qualifies as an expat, who might be worthy of an invitation (could move a business here, make an investment, lend expertise, etc.), Detroit Homecoming invites you to nominate them for a possible invitation to the next event. It might just be the perfect way to lure someone home who needs to see how far Detroit has come and how many exciting opportunities are on the horizon.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.