Convening in Palo Alto Will Feature Three Events on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Detroit

DETROIT & PALO ALTO, CALIF. (June 20, 2016) – The 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama and attended by more than 1,500 global delegates on Stanford University’s campus, June 22-24, will include special events designed to highlight entrepreneurship and innovation in Detroit.

The White House Detroit Federal Working Group is partnering with the New Economy Initiative (NEI), a philanthropic initiative that funds a network of support for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Detroit and southeast Michigan, to host The Detroit Story, an official side event of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit taking place on Thursday, June 23, 6:30 p.m. PT at HanaHaus at the New Varsity Theater (456 University Avenue) in downtown Palo Alto. The event will focus on Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and feature a series of panels in which Detroit entrepreneurs themselves will discuss the city’s social, food, and mobility sectors. Following the main event, an evening reception will be held at the Shinola (Detroit) store in Palo Alto. The Detroit Story will conclude on Saturday, June 25 with a film screening and discussion of the documentary GENERATION STARTUP.

Detroit will be represented by five official delegates to GES, the most of any city in the nation, to include: Amy Kaherl (Detroit Soup), Pashon Murray (Detroit Dirt), Jerry Paffendorf (Loveland Technologies), James Sayer (UMTRI), and Pam Lewis (NEI).

The focus on Detroit – a city in which entrepreneurship is helping pave the way for a more inclusive, sustainable economy – reflects the Obama Administration’s dedication to finding innovative and transformative solutions to key global problems.  President Obama named a point person on Detroit in 2014, Cliff Kellogg from the Department of Treasury, and a team of advisers, including Julie Egan, his deputy director from the U.S. Department of State, along with advisers from other federal agencies. The White House Detroit Federal Working Group ensures that the federal government remains a strong partner for Detroit as it charts its historic economic recovery. This includes working to connect Detroit to international opportunities and attracting global entrepreneurs.

“Detroit is a global city with a proud history and people. Its full recovery depends on the strategic leveraging of all assets including its legacy as one of the nation’s original centers for innovation and entrepreneurship, and its position on one of the richest trade crossings in the nation,” says Julie Egan, deputy director of the White House Detroit Federal Working Group. “It is time to tell the Detroit story, to put Detroit back on the global map, and to encourage innovators from around the world to come join the entrepreneurial movement in Detroit led by Detroiters. As the Mayor of Detroit said recently, entrepreneurs are rebels, and entrepreneurs from Detroit are extreme rebels. GES is a reflection of the President’s commitment to utilize entrepreneurship as a foundational tool to build more economically prosperous, secure, and globally connected communities around the world. The White House Detroit Federal Working Group is proud to support that work in Detroit and lift up The Detroit Story to the world.”

“The city of Detroit has come a long way in recent years, and we think a lot of that has to do with philanthropy taking an inclusive approach to investing in support for entrepreneurs,” says Pam Lewis, director of NEI. “Though we still have a long way to go, the regional economy, which for a century relied on the fortunes of a single industry, is diversifying, and people across communities are beginning to view entrepreneurship as an engine of opportunity. There’s a lot the nation and world can learn from what’s happening in Detroit today.”

In the past decade, NEI’s investments in the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem have leveraged almost $1 billion in additional investment to service providers and their small business clients in Detroit, in addition to contributing nearly $2 billion to regional GDP and creating over 17,000 jobs.

The Detroit Story at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will showcase the opportunity in Detroit on the ground today. Through a series of panel discussions on Thursday, June 23, at 6 :30 p.m. PT, entrepreneurs engaged directly in Detroit’s social, food, and mobility sectors will speak about their experiences. During the event’s culminating session, a group of entrepreneurs including Jacques Panis (Shinola), Carla Walker-Miller (Walker-Miller Energy Services) and Lorron James (James Group International), will answer the question “Why Detroit?”

For a full agenda, visit

To RSVP, visit

Additional Background

Global Entrepreneurship Summit

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Silicon Valley will be the 7th installment in a series previously hosted by the United States and the governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Morocco, and Kenya. The event will attract approximately 1,500 attendees, including 700 entrepreneurs from over 170 countries selected from over 5,000 applicants; and investors, educators, government officials, and business leaders who represent the full measure of entrepreneurial talent from diverse backgrounds across our nation and the world.

New Economy Initiative

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) is a $136-million philanthropic initiative and special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, with support from 12 local and national foundations. NEI is one of the largest economic development initiatives of its kind working to build a network of support for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The mission of NEI is to create an inclusive, innovative regional culture by reawakening and leveraging Detroit’s creative entrepreneurial drive. The overarching goal is to establish a more diverse economy where opportunity, wealth and prosperity are available to all. For more information, visit:


GENERATION STARTUP takes us to the front lines of entrepreneurship in America, capturing the struggles and triumphs of six recent college graduates who put everything on the line to build startups in Detroit. Shot over 17 months, it’s an honest, in-the-trenches look at what it takes to launch a startup. Directed by Academy Award winner Cynthia Wade and award-winning filmmaker Cheryl Miller Houser, the film celebrates risk-taking, urban revitalization, and diversity while delivering a vital call-to-action—with entrepreneurship at a record low, the country’s economic future is at stake. GENERATION STARTUP opens in theaters this fall.

What:                  The Detroit Story

When:                  Thursday, June 23, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. PT

Where:                 HanaHaus at the New Varsity Theater, 456 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA

Who:                    Welcome from Julie Egan, a senior Obama administration official

                            Introductory remarks from Pam Lewis, director, New Economy Initiative

Presentations from 10+ Detroit-area entrepreneurs and innovators focused on social enterprise, mobility and food [Full program is available here]


What:                   Afterglow: An evening of Detroit music and Detroit-made spirits

When:                  Thursday, June 23, 8:30 – 11:00 p.m. PT

Where:                 The Shinola Store, 261 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA


What:                   Film Screening and Discussion of GENERATION STARTUP

When:                  Saturday, June 25, 11:00 am – 1:00 p.m. PT

Where:               Landmark Aquarius Theater, 430 Emerson Street, Palo Alto, CA

Who:                    Andrew Yang, Founder & CEO, Venture for America

Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship

Cheryl Miller Houser, Co-Director & Producer, Generation Startup; Founder, Creative Breed


For Media:           Press interested in attending any of the three events must RSVP to by June 22.


Press Contacts:   Members of the media interested in interviewing Detroit GES delegates and Detroit Story panelists, please reach out to:


Alex Edwards                                                  Ruthie Ackerman         

(810) 986-0880                                               (617) 513-2631