Transatlantic Exchange: Table Set for Cities to Share Ideas in Detroit

Detroit is setting the table for a great international feast of ideas this week. And you are invited.

Joining Detroit leaders on Friday, Sept. 18, at NextEnergy's headquarters in New Center will be leaders from other post-industrial cities, here and abroad, who are facing similar issues as they move away from manufacturing-dependent economies.

The civic, cultural and economic leaders will talk solutions, share strategies and goals. The free and open event is the German Marshall Fund's "Great Lakes Regionalism & Economic Development Workshop", and the theme is "Lessons from Europe."

"We have some cities that are viewed as success stories and others that are struggling," says Ellen Pope, director of comparative domestic policy for the German Marshall Fund of the United States. "The idea of the workshop was really to provide a learning experiences for regional leaders from Southeast Michigan, Northeast Ohio and Southwest Pennsylvania, to travel to Europe to older industrial cities, and to devise strategies."

Among the presenters will be Valentino Castellani, former mayor of Turin, Italy, which shares Detroit's car culture as well as many of its struggles. "Turin, it's really an unsung city. It's really turned around since the early 1990s," says Pope.

The focus will be on talking about what's worked and what's not in these cities, she says.

"It's going to be very practical. That’s sort of the hallmark of our program -- first-hand, solutions," she says. "It won't be turn-key solutions that you will be able to plop down in Southeast Michigan, but it will really get people to think about how they work regionally."

The event is sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, with the support of the Ford Foundation and local leaders. The German Marshall Fund's mission is to promote understanding and idea exchanges between North America and Europe. The fund focuses on post-industrial societies, making sure up-and-coming leaders get a chance to travel abroad and get exposed to new ideas.

Detroit is one of 25 cities in the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Cities Network, along with Belgrade, Turin, Essen, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Antonio. Pope says these are "second-tier cities" -- not the New Yorks or Londons. They are cities transitioning to a new economy, and there are a lot of ideas and best practices they can share.

Topics at this week's workshop will include:
  • The need for a big vision/leadership
  • Defining the region
  • The impact of urban transformation and infrastructure redevelopment
  • Adaptive reuse of industrial sites and preserving cultural heritage
  • Financing capital projects and economic development initiatives
  • Intra-regional level planning
  • The use of art and culture to build community
  • Developing regional industry clusters: When to compete and when to collaborate  
  • Integration of universities in economic development.
To register for the free workshop, click here. It will be from 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18. at the NextEnergy headquarters, 461 Burroughs St., in New Center.

Get Model D for free in your e-mail box each week. Sign up here.


Downtown Detroit

All photographs by Detroit Photographer Marvin Shaouni Marvin Shaouni is the Managing Photographer for Metromode & Model D.

Signup for Email Alerts