Long-shuttered Michigan Central Station hosts Detroit Homecoming

Event seeks out homegrown talent to aid in Detroit's turnaround

DETROIT - It's homecoming week in Detroit.

Now in its fourth year, Detroit Homecoming seeks out homegrown talent to contribute to the city's turnaround. On Wednesday night, the event was held at the old train station.

There was quite a show in Roosevelt Park on Wednesday, as the station attracted many residents interested in Detroit's turnaround.

The Central Train Station was lit up outside, and inside there was a gathering unlike any in its heyday.

"We thought these people that have grown up here, educated here, would come back to see what's going on and be inspired to do something of value for this city," Jim Hayes said. "It worked out splendidly."

The event is credited with $300 million in new investment in the city, and stars such as Detroit native Lily Tomlin, this year's honored guest, help do that and more.

"It's generated a lot of additional financial resources, and it's also sustained the momentum of this city's comeback," Tomlin said.

Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, a Texan now for 37 years, hasn't forgotten her east-side roots.

"The concern that I've had in the four years that I've been coming is what's happening in the neighborhoods?" Gervin-Hawkins said.

She, like the handful of protesters at the event, want to see investment beyond Downtown Detroit and Midtown.

"The efforts are beginning," she said. "The start of interest of the people who have capital that can come in and do some things, but the neighborhoods are on the agenda, and I've seen that this year, and I'm so happy about it."

As long as they can tap this resource, they feel no goal is unattainable.

"Richard Florida, the great urbanologist, once said Detroit's greatest export is not the automobile, it's talent," Hayes said. "I agree. At homecoming, that's what we try to tap into."

There are two more days of the event, including events at the Factory and the DIA Thursday.

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