The first-ever Flint Homecoming brought together 150 business and community leaders – including 60 expatriates – to reconnect, rediscover and invest in the future of their hometown. Also during the 1-1/2 day event, two Flint expats pledged a total of $50,000 for two Flint projects:
- Dr. William Pickard, CEO, Global Automotive Alliance pledged $40,000 to the Friends of Berston Field House for the construction of a Family Literacy Classroom at the historic community center.
- Herb Washington, President & CEO of H.L.W. Fast Track, a food and beverage company, pledged $10,000 toward ongoing renovation of the historic Capitol Theatre.
Many who attended the Flint Homecoming said the gathering was just the beginning and called it an idea-generator.
Chris Rizik, CEO, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund (Ann Arbor, MI)
“It was terrific. No matter how closely we follow online or in the newspaper, we can’t get the level of detail we got today about what’s going on. We can’t see the young people like we saw in the final panel (‘The Young Professionals – How I Contribute to Moving Flint Forward’), sort of the future of Flint. … I think everybody who came here, they’ll be noodling around to figure out how can they now, in their lives, re-engage with Flint in a way they haven’t before. … I’ve been sitting here noodling and I’ve already thought of some things I want to do. … If we can make Flint part of our regular lives again, maybe in a way that we haven’t before, then that’s going to be a real win for this.”
Dale Gillmore, Partner, Viking Mergers & Acquisitions (Charlotte, NC)
“The main thing here is jobs. Generating more jobs here is the key to all of it. … (Regarding next steps) One key thing that I think is really a big deal is a little bit of a mentorship reach-back. It may not be a super time-consuming thing. It might be: would you be willing to take a phone call or Skype meeting with 10 kids?”
Marissa Wiesen, Business Development Manager, Warner, Norcross & Judd (Southfield, MI)
(During a morning break) “It’s been incredibly inspiring, and it’s really great to see the enthusiasm of the expats as well as the local community. It’s a really great opportunity to move the community forward and reconnect for those of us that haven’t been around of late. I just moved here from Seattle. … I think what Mary Kramer (Crain’s Detroit Group Publisher and featured speaker) spoke about with what they’ve done with the Detroit Homecoming would be a really good opportunity to track what expats have done and maybe develop a subcommittee to follow that to keep the momentum going for redevelopment opportunities.”
Sabin Blake, Manager of Community Outreach, General Motors (Detroit)
“It really exceeded all my expectations. I’ve been coming back to Flint ever since I moved back to Michigan a couple of years ago, but getting this opportunity to see behind the scenes of what’s going on has taught me that the road to recovery in Flint is definitely well on its way. … I’m bullish on Flint and optimistic about it. … The last panel (‘The Young Professionals’) caught my attention the most because I’m in that generation. We’re not the Bill Pickards where we’re ready to write a check for $40,000 or whatever, but I think having opportunities and things where we can engage and be ready to say, ‘alright, this is where we need you help and these are things that you can do as someone who’s in that 30 to 45 age range.’ … It’s not just about your dollars. It’s also about your time and intellectual capital.”
Lt. Governor Brian Calley
“There aren’t very many places, particularly communities of this size, that have the robust size of (higher education) education systems that exist here. … This is the type talent pipeline that most places would be very envious of. … Today, it’s about the talent. … If you’re looking to move and make a difference, this is the type of community you can get your arms around. And it’s the type of community that will put its arms around you. You can make a bigger difference here than you can in most places.”
Flint Homecoming 2017 included panel discussions, site tours and networking opportunities. It was made possible through the support of the following partners: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Community Foundation of Greater Flint; Deloitte; Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc.; Flint Cultural Center; Flint Downtown Development Authority; Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce; General Motors; Hagerman Foundation; Huntington Bank; Kettering University; Plante Moran; Ruth Mott Foundation; United Way of Genesee County; and University of Michigan-Flint.