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LiveWorkDetroit! puts a stopper in Detroit’s brain drain

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation just held its LiveWorkDetroit! tour, showing up and coming graduates the best of the best around the city proper.

Their video from last year shows a good number of students and recent grads touring the city, but it seems that momentum is only growing. This weekend’s event maxed out with over two hundred participants, from over thirty different colleges and universities.

“I’d like to work here… I’m hoping there are opportunities here,” says Michael Dingess, a recent graduate from Allen Park. Frustrated with applying for jobs online and never hearing back, Dingess came to the LiveWorkDetroit! event to talk to employers in person… and hopefully land an interview that leads to a job. Sometimes that face-to-face interaction makes all the difference.

That seems to be the philosophy behind the LiveWorkDetroit! program. While employers meet and fall in love with participants, MEDC hopes when young people actually see Detroit, they’ll fall in love with it, too. “Sure you can move to Chicago or DC and be a yuppie over there,” says Michelle Elder, program manager of the LiveWorkDetroit! initiative. “…But if you want to be a part of change and give back to a community that wants you and needs you, this is the place for you.”

Students and recent graduates mingle with potential employers

Students and recent graduates mingle with potential employers

The networking luncheon held at the Book Cadillac was one of the major draws of the day. Twenty two employers were there, ranging from Detroit Big F Deal to Quicken Loans to Caraco Pharmaceutical Labs. Non-profits, media, engineering and healthcare jobs were all represented, and the program never failed to highlight the city’s young entrepreneurs, who decided to go their own way. It wasn’t just talk, either. Emily Doerr, who opened Detroit’s first hostel in Corktown; Kelli Kavanaugh, owner of bike shop Wheelhouse Detroit, and other young entrepreneurs were guest speakers for the day, offering their experience and advice to the young participants.

They’re showing a place where you can both find yourself and become a part of the community. As such, you have a stake in the directions the city goes. “What’s so unique about Detroit, is that it hasn’t be fully defined yet,” Elder says. “I’m so in love with Downtown and the possibilities of our future.”

The night concluded with a trip to the North American International Auto Show. Aside from being a staple in Detroit entertainment every year, MEDC hopes it might help convince engineers to move to Detroit. As it turns out, the opportunities here for engineers might be wider than they are elsewhere.

“Engineers are problem solvers, innovators, creators,” says Darleen Truedell, executive vice president of the Engineering Society of Detroit. “You might ask, ‘what does an engineering group have to do with fixing Michigan’s economy?’ Well, we bring them in the room, and they solve the problems.” It means talking about the economy, symposiums on clean air and water, and much more than that.

If you’re interested in checking out the city for yourself, there’s another LiveWorkDetroit! tour coming around on Friday, March 9. This one is particularly geared toward engineering, technology and healthcare fields. It’s a $15 registration fee, which includes transportation to Detroit. Check out their website for details.

For more on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Live Work Detroit program, visit www.mitalent.org/LiveWorkDetroit.

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