More than 50 community leaders from Grand Rapids will take a bus to visit Detroit this week. Organizers hope the trip will connect people, break down stereotypes, determine common problems and figure out how each side of the state can benefit the other.
Tommy Allen is an editor for Rapid Growth Media. The weekly, Grand Rapids-based economic magazine is hosting the trip.
Lately, Allen says he’s been able to work in Detroit. And he’s loved his experiences there.
“I love how it’s changed me. My friends in Detroit have pushed me as much as I’ve pushed them. So that creative capital exchange that we do on a regular basis is going to make both of our cities better. So why not? Why not partner with people more and more in Detroit?”
Allen knows too many people who reinforce the stereotypes about and the divide between Detroit and Grand Rapids. Allen hopes to start to bridge that gap by bussing innovative, talented people from West Michigan to network with their counterparts in Detroit; see what they’re working on during a day-long tour.
“It’s about, in this case, job creation. Because out of the creative class or out of creative solutions we then find that we might have new industry that could spring up from these alliances.”
The group from Grand Rapids will tour Detroit most of the day. Then they’ll head to the “Rust Belt to Artist Belt” conference that’s moved from Cleveland to Detroit this year.
Allen plans to bring a group of community leaders from Detroit to visit Grand Rapids soon.