Press Release: Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016 Heads to Flint

Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016 heads to Flint, Michigan Oct. 19-21 with an expanded program and two new business challenge competitions

 Third annual event brings business innovators, academics and community leaders together to solve urban problems using for-profit business solutions; sponsorship opportunities available

 Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466;

 Detroit –July 19, 2016 –The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative will hold its third annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium Oct. 19 to 21 in Flint, Michigan. The 2016 Symposium (#UES2016) follows sold-out events in Detroit in 2015 and Ann Arbor in 2014. The Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium convenes entrepreneurs and thought leaders in business, academia, community organizations and government to facilitate business solutions that bring economic opportunity and quality of life improvements to urban communities.

“Urban entrepreneurship isn’t a social program, it’s business innovation that produces needed products and services for urban communities, or makes a significant number of jobs available to urban residents,” W. David Tarver, founder and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative and the chief event organizer, said.

A Flint native, Tarver holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and also lectures in U-M’s Center for Entrepreneurship. In 1983, at age 30, he launched Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc., a telecommunications instrumentation business, and sold it in 1995 for $30 million. Working as group president for the company’s buyer, Tarver then spearheaded development of a telecommunications group with a market value of more than $2 billion. He left that business in 1999 to devote more time to family and community service, ultimately returning to Southeast Michigan in 2007.  Tarver explained the reasoning behind holding this year’s Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint.

“Flint’s water crisis has dealt a terrible blow to the community on many levels,” Tarver said. “This crisis must be dealt with thoroughly and effectively, but the people of Flint want much more than just drinkable water. To be viable in the long run, the Flint community must change its story from crisis and despair to entrepreneurial innovation and economic revitalization. #UES2016 will bring together the best minds in the city, region and country to give a boost to that process.”


The mission of #UES2016 is to:

  • Focus the entrepreneur community on solving urban problems viafor-profit
  • Forge productiveconnections between entrepreneurs, investors, students, faculty and urban communities.
  • Identify important urbanproblems that can benefit from for-profit business innovation.
  • Identify newbusiness models that can result in repeatable, scalable businesses that address key urban problems.
  • Identify and recognizeexisting businesses that are applying innovative business models to solve important urban problems.
  • Sharebest practices in community engagement, problem identification, human-centered design, business model creation and validation, finance and support systems and other key areas.

 “Creating an urban-focused business requires the entrepreneur to focus first on the problem that needs to be solved, and then to use business and technical innovation to deliver the solution. It requires strong commitment, creativity, and deep, effective community engagement,” Tarver said.

New to this year’s symposium are two business challenge competitions offering monetary awards and professional guidance to the winning teams. The Urban Infrastructure Challenge business model competition will showcase entrepreneurial innovation, with finalist teams presenting a business model for a product or service that improves the quality of urban life by addressing an infrastructure issue such as drinking water, transportation or internet access. For the Urban Jobs Challenge, finalist teams will present a business model that results in a significant number of living wage, entry-level jobs, with the winning business model responding to the specific characteristics and needs of the Flint community. Details to apply for the business challenge competitions will be released shortly via the UEI website.


Details on Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016

  • When: #UES2016 kicks off Wednesday Oct. 19 with an evening program, and runs through Friday, Oct. 21, 2016; the Thursday session will begin at 8:00 a.m. and end (following a business networking reception) at 7:30 p.m. Friday’s session will commence at 8:00 a.m. and end mid-afternoon.
  • Where: work sessions, receptions and seminars will take place at several Flint venues. Details will be provided on the UEI website.
  • Cost: The Wednesday night community reception is free (pre-registration required). Registration cost for the full Thursday work sessions is $25.00. Registration for the Friday sessions (including access to all seminars) is $25.00.
  • Registration: advance registration is required; purchase tickets online at
  • Sponsors: For sponsorship information, please call Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative at (313) 457-2050 or email
  • Event questions: for general questions about the event, please email


About the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, founded by W. David Tarver, a technology entrepreneur, Michigan native and author of “Proving Ground: A Memoir, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation offering programming and resources that encourage, facilitate and enable the development of for-profit businesses that explicitly and intentionally address the needs of urban communities. Learn more here.


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