Everyone loves a success story, which is why the 5,401 attendees at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) annual meeting and exposition Aug. 8–11 applauded the choice of Detroit as host city. Fifteen years ago Michigan’s largest city was plagued by a crumbling infrastructure, and planners shied away from what was once a premier destination. Today the Motor City is back in gear thanks to an $11 billion infusion from investors committed to resurrecting the region once synonymous with “American-made.”
Josh Linkner, the young venture capitalist and native son who kicked off #ASAE15’s opening session, believes Detroit’s transformation will be analyzed for years to come.“We are not rebuilding the old Detroit…we are building a new Detroit,” he says. “The city is attracting passionate entrepreneurs who are bringing fresh, new ideas and re-establishing the city as a beacon of opportunity.”
Larry Alexander, president and CEO of Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, is basking in the glory of the amazing metamorphosis. In 2011, Detroit hosted three citywides; this year it will host 14. A key draw is Cobo Center, fresh off a six-year, $279 million facelift. The modern, light-filled facility has 723,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space and spectacular views of the Detroit River and Windsor, Canada, through its large glass windows. In addition, nearby hotels and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) have been spruced up.
It’s time to sing the praises of Detroit, which is appropriate considering the fact that in addition to being the birthplace of the American automotive industry, it is also the birthplace of Motown. #ASAE15’s opening night reception was staged at Henry Ford Museum, a superb venue that houses an incredible collection of historic automobiles. Entertainment was provided by legendary Motown favorites such as The Contours, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, The Temptations Revue featuring Dennis Edwards and The Four Tops. The Classic, a fundraiser for ASAE Foundation, took place at the famed Fox Theatre, with Lionel Richie headlining.
The incredible and inspiring comeback of Detroit presents planners with an exciting meeting destination that is geared up for the future.