Detroit Homecoming began with a desire of its founder Jim Hayes to reconnect individuals possessing a connection to Detroit with the city’s social and financial opportunities.
A native New Yorker, Jim’s first day in the Detroit as a writer for Sports Illustrated was the same day that the 1967 rebellion began. Despite the tumultuous events of 1967, Jim would develop a love for the city, as his work would periodically bring him to the city. After his time at Sports Illustrated and as the publisher of the former Fortune magazine, Jim Hayes would travel the globe, engaging in various initiatives before finally settling in Detroit, the city which had charmed him so many years ago.
By 2012, Detroit was in dire financial straights, forcing the city to file for bankruptcy by 2013 and forcing the city to slash massive amounts of city service. With the city’s neighborhoods, citizens, and government at rock bottom, Jim joined numerous other Detroiters in exploring ways to get the city back on its feet. After speaking to one colleague about her desire to find a way to attract Detroit natives who had had experienced success in other cities back to Detroit in order to reinvest and revitalize, Jim’s wheels began turning in his head.
“What if we planned an event to regroup Detroit expats which was fun, informative and action-oriented?” Jim thought. “Like any university or high school, we could have a Homecoming, but for Detroiters.”
Mary Kramer, a longtime Crain’s Detroit Business publisher and city resident, met Jim through Keith Crain in 2013 and quickly embraced the idea of Detroit Homecoming.
With the support of the Crain family — and foundation and corporate investment — the initiative began. 2014 was the first of four annual Homecomings.