Detroit summit aims to be catalyst for manufacturing.

Author:Alpern, Peter
Position:News & analysis

When the Detroit Economic Club was first founded in 1934, the United States was facing the perilous financial crisis of the Great Depression. When the club meets next summer to celebrate its 75 anniversary, it will bring together the minds of the best and brightest to face another troubling economic challenge.

The Detroit Economic Club is seeking to convene top business, political, and academic leaders, including the next president of the United States, to the Motor City to discuss key economic issues threatening the nation.

"We don't have a plan, and sometimes it seems like we don't have a clue," said Bill Ford, the outgoing chairman of the Detroit Economic Club, in an address in September about the current national economic policy.

"Our economy is troubled today and threatened tomorrow," said Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., which lost $8.7 billion in the three-month period which ended June 30. "With so much at stake, business as usual is no longer acceptable. It's time for government and business to work together for the sake of a more secure and prosperous nation."

Ford will join Dow Chemical Co. Chairman Andrew Liveris to co-chair the event, called the National Summit, which will take place June 15-17 at Ford Field.

The Detroit Economic Club is organizing the event and patterning it after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The forum would focus on the issues bearing down strongest on manufacturing and industry today: technology; energy, health care, and manufacturing, according to club President Beth Chappell.

The challenge facing event organizers is not just bringing in names and attendees, but creating an environment to inspire creative policy that leaders will enact. Organizers will also need several figures to lend the meeting significance.

When Liveris spoke in September at the Detroit Economic Club, he bemoaned the United States' glaring lack of...

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