Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium Targets Business Innovators


ANN ARBOR — Business, education, government, and community representatives will gather to discuss strategies for creating sustainable, scalable business solutions for urban communities as part of the inaugural Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in October. 

The keynote speaker for the Symposium is Jeffrey Robinson from the Rutgers University Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, one of the first academic programs in the nation focused on urban entrepreneurship and economic development.

The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative is producing the Symposium and will focus on entrepreneurs and the general public on the challenges, opportunities, and rewards of solving the problems that many urban communities face. UEI aims to encourage and empower the entrepreneurs and businesses that seek to solve such problems.

Thomas Zurbuchen, senior counselor for Entrepreneurial Education at the University of Michigan, expresses strong support for the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative. “Our mission at U-M Innovate Blue is to support both individual creativity and multi-disciplinary teams in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges and opportunities. The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative falls solidly within that mission, and that is why we are glad to support and host the Symposium.”

David Tarver, UEI founder and Symposium organizer, shares his motivation: “I felt frustration because on the one hand, we have all this entrepreneurial brainpower, and yet not enough of it is focused on the needs of urban communities. That’s a problem worth solving,” he says. Tarver elaborates on what he believes is the solution: ”Entrepreneurs are problem-solvers. I believe that when we engage urban communities to determine their needs, entrepreneurs will innovate sustainable ways to address them. That’s what entrepreneurs do, and UEI is here to help make it happen.”

The key topics to be addressed at the Symposium are:

  • Proven methods for engaging urban communities to determine needs, and for translating those needs into products and services
  • Vivid examples of sustainable, scalable, and disruptive businesses that are solving important urban problems
  • Students who are attempting to “change the game” via urban entrepreneurship
  • Strategic, legal, and financial support systems available to urban entrepreneurs

One of the key outcomes of the Symposium will be an empowered network of individuals and organizations poised to bring more business innovation to cities. The long-term benefit will be a stronger set of enterprises that will make meaningful contributions to the health and wealth of urban communities in Michigan, the United States, and around the world.

The no cost event takes place from 8 am to 2 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library,  1000 Beal Ave. in Ann Arbor.  Space is limited, visit urbanei.net for tickets.