People keep asking, “Why are you doing a Techonomy conference in Detroit?” We’re known for our invite-only annual retreat in the desert near Tucson. So why, you may wonder, is our first one-day event in a gritty, depressed, financially-troubled city that seems well past its glory?
The group that had the least trouble answering this question were our highest-profile tech speakers—Jack Dorsey, Steve Case, and Tim Draper. Once they heard we were doing a Techonomy event in Detroit they all said they wanted to be part of it—sometimes literally within seconds. With LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, I hadn’t even finished a sentence before he said, “I’m in.” His schedule later prevented him from coming, but he had instant enthusiasm for the idea.
What these guys who are deeply immersed in changing the world all realize is that the time is now to apply technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship to address our urgent national problems. Detroit, for the very fact that it is among the most challenging corners of our economy, is the perfect place to demonstrate the game-changing potential of these tools. I like to say that Detroit, with its infrastructure so decimated, is literally a green field—for farming (which is really happening here) or for innovation.
Techonomy Detroit, hosted by our close partners at the Detroit Economic Club, aims to shine a light on how technology can transform U.S. competitiveness, create jobs, grow our economy, and revitalize our cities.
If technology is the key ingredient to rejuvenating the American economy, it has to work where the problems are biggest and the task the hardest. Detroit has gone further down than just about any other major city. Its population is less than half what it was in its heyday. A large percentage of those who remain are extremely poor.
But we at Techonomy—and our speakers—believe we are in an era of technology breakthroughs that can enable any community to make rapid progress—if it embraces them. These tools can absolutely be applied in Detroit, or anywhere, to make a dramatic difference—faster than most recognize. That’s the message we hope to convey this coming Wednesday at the conference at Wayne State University. We see promising advances in education, health care, manufacturing, business structure and management, finance, entrepreneurship, urban planning, and yes even in transportation, Detroit’s historic strength.
Click HERE to read the full article on Forbes!