News Release: Author of ground-breaking book about Flint to speak at Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016


In one of the most comprehensive works yet written on the history of inequality and metropolitan development in modern America, author Andrew R. Highsmith uses the case of Flint to explain how the perennial quest for urban renewal contributed to mass suburbanization, racial and economic division, deindustrialization and political fragmentation.

Detroit –Sept. 16, 2016 – W. David Tarver, founder and president of The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI) and chief organizer of the third annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium, to be held in Flint from Oct. 19 to 21 in Flint, announced that Andrew R. Highsmith, author of Demolition Means Progress, will speak at the event on Oct. 20. The session will consist of an extended interview with Highsmith, conducted by Tarver.

Highsmith is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. A former Flint resident, he received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan in 2009. His doctoral dissertation won the 2009 John Reps Prize for Best Dissertation in American Planning History from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History and the Urban History Association’s Best Dissertation Award for 2009-10. He is a specialist in modern American history, urban history and public policy. Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan, and the Fate of the American Metropolis, was published in July 2015 by the University of Chicago Press. The book won the 2016 American Historical Association Pacific Coast Branch Book Award. In addition to the book, Highsmith has published scholarly articles in the Journal of Urban History, the American Journal of Education, Environmental Justice, the Teachers College Record, and the Journal of Policy History.  Highsmith currently resides in Irvine, California, with his wife and three children.

UEI founder Tarver first became acquainted with Highsmith earlier this year after hearing him interviewed about the Flint water crisis on WDET Public Radio in Detroit. He subsequently bought and read Demolition Means Progress and immediately felt compelled to invite Highsmith to speak at #UES2016.

Demolition Means Progress should be required reading for anyone who aspires to do economic development work in Flint or other American cities that have experienced industrial decline,” Tarver said. “It’s an imminently readable book that conveys an understanding of how Flint became what it is today, and that history suggests the paths we might take to revitalize the city, or not.”

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. Sponsors for #UES2016 include Diplomat, SkyPoint Ventures, the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Mott Community College and several units of the University of Michigan, including Innovate Blue, The Center for Entrepreneurship, the Center for Social Impact at the Ross School of Business and the University of Michigan-Flint School of Management.

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 and the Urban Jobs Challenge. Details to apply for the business challenge competitions are available 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: the Mott Community College Event Center, the Mott Community College Regional Tech Center, the University of Michigan-Flint Northbank Center and the Flint Farmers Market. Details are 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 access to all Friday 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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