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Week of March 21, 2011

Regents in Detroit

Focus Detroit: U-M students help revitalize Motown

Students at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business say they are committed to the revitalization of the city of Detroit.

Revitalization and Business: Focus Detroit is a student initiative that explores the role that business, innovation and entrepreneurship can play in creating a sustainable and vibrant Detroit.

According to its mission, R&B’s aim is to “shift perceptions and motivations toward Detroit within the student population at the University of Michigan, ultimately helping more students to see Detroit as not only a viable but exciting place to build a career and have an impact. And, as a result, bring the region a valuable source of talent to fuel its revitalization.”

Stephen M. Ross School MBA students Neesha Modi and David McCarty present “Revitalization and Business: Focus Detroit” during the regents meeting at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit.

 Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services.

Students presented their project to the Board of Regents at a March 17 meeting in Detroit.

With the aim of increasing student engagement with the Motor City, the R&B team organized a series of highly attended campus events in January, including Detroit Impact workshops, themed tours of the city and keynote addresses by restaurateur Phil Cooley of Slows Bar-B-Q in downtown Detroit, CEO Tony Early of DTE Energy and Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. and vice chairman of the Detroit Lions.

The Detroit Impact workshops featured student project teams that identified issues and developed solutions for Detroit-based organizations during fall 2010. The teams presented their recommendations in January. Design-consulting firm IDEO provided training and feedback to the project teams, and Detroit Impact presented project information to more than 3,500 attendees of the National Net Impact conference held at Ross in late October. A crowd-sourced brainstorming session pulled ideas from more than 150 participants that ultimately were integrated into the final client presentations to the Detroit organizations.

One such project was “Capturing Detroit’s Assets,” sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan. The Detroit Impact project team generated innovative marketing ideas, facilitated regional collaboration and performed a foundational analysis for marketing the creation of a global supply chain multi-modal hub (air, land, sea and rail freight) for Southeast Michigan, which has the potential to create more than 66,000 jobs and more than $10 billion in economic development over 10 years.

Other Detroit Impact projects include:

• “Strategic Real Estate Development” (ASTI Environmental, Windham Group and Detroit Housing Commission)

• “The Power of Pro Bono” (United Way for Southeast Michigan)

• “Marketing as an Educational Tool” (Get Fresh Detroit)

• “Innovations in Distribution Channels for an Urban Farm” (RecoveryPark).



Linnea Chervenak, senior project manager, Ambulatory Care, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, on her lifelong attraction to travel: “I always thought it was normal to travel to foreign countries.”


Author Pauline Kaldas poetry reading at 5:10 p.m. March 28, Angell Hall, with author T.J. Anderson.

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