News Release: Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016 challenges Flint community to “Give Us What You Got” through new community pitches sessions

In preparation for #UES2016, the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative wants to hear directly from Flint citizens regarding their business ideas, community improvement suggestions, and gripes, and will give recognition and prizes to the best presentations.

 Detroit –Sept. 26, 2016 –The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI) is pleased to announce the new community pitches sessions organized in conjunction with the third annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium, to be held Oct. 19 to 21 in Flint, Mich. The 2016 Symposium (#UES2016) follows sold-out events in Detroit in 2015 and Ann Arbor in 2014 and 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.  The community pitches announcement was made by tech entrepreneur W. David Tarver, founder and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative and the chief event organizer.

“The community pitches gatherings are a grass roots call for ideas that will make life better in Flint,” Tarver, a Flint native, said. “Whether the pitch is for a new business, a community improvement suggestion, or a gripe about a problem that needs to be solved, we want to hear it!”

Beginning with the first session on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Flint Public Library, 1026 E. Kearsley, UEI staff members will hold sessions at several locations in Flint through Oct. 12 to record one to two minute videos of pitches by community members. Those willing to participate and have the presentation of their pitch recorded on a short video may be eligible for a cash prize, community recognition and professional advice. The recorded pitches will ultimately be summarized and discussed at the 2016 Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium Community Program, to be held at the Mott Community College Event Center on October 19. Admission to the Community Program is free, but advance registration is required online.

The most compelling pitches will be selected for special recognition and a cash prize:

  • 1st prize: $500
  • 2nd prize: $250
  • 3rd prize: $100

In addition to the recognition and cash, community pitch winners will be connected with local resources to further develop their ideas. For more information and the most up-to-date information on recording session locations, dates and times, see

“Urban entrepreneurship is business innovation that produces needed products and services for urban communities or makes a significant number of jobs available to urban residents,” Tarver said. “The community pitches sessions will help us target key issues of concern to Flint residents, and will allow entrepreneurs and others to more effectively direct their time and resources.”

In addition to the community pitches sessions, #UES2016 is hosting the 2016 Urban Infrastructure Challenge and the 2016 Urban Jobs Challenge. Participants in either challenge must be high school graduates, 18 years of age or older. The competition is for individuals or new teams, not established companies. The winning entry will receive a $2,500 cash award and an advisory session on strategy, funding, marketing and more with Flint-based SkyPoint Ventures and, separately, the U-M Center of Entrepreneurship. Deadline for submission is Oct. 4. All details and registration information are available here.

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.

Registration information and event details for #UES2016 can be found at  For corporate sponsorship information, please call the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative at (313) 457-2050 or email Leading academic sponsors of #UES2016 are Mott Community College, The University of Michigan – Flint School of Management, The University of Michigan – Center for Entrepreneurship and The University of Michigan – Innovate Blue.

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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