News Release: Keynote speakers for Oct. 19-21 Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium announced

Keynote speakers for Oct. 19-21 Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium focus on economic revival in Flint; registration is underway.

Detroit –Oct. 11, 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, announced keynote speakers for the event. They are Andrew R. Highsmith, Ph.D., author of Demolition Means Progress, and Jeffery Robinson, Ph.D., an urban economic development expert from Rutgers University. Registration for the event is underway at

Dr. Robinson is an award-winning business school professor, international speaker, and entrepreneur.  Since 2008, he has been a leading faculty member at Rutgers University Business School where he is academic director and senior fellow at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development. The Center is a unique interdisciplinary venue for innovative thinking and research on entrepreneurial activity and economic development in urban environments.

Dr. Jeffrey Robinson
Dr. Jeffrey Robinson

Dr. Robinson’s research explores how business practices and entrepreneurship can be used to impact societal issues.  He is particularly concerned about community and economic development issues for urban metropolitan areas in the United States and abroad. In 2007, he was selected as the recipient of the Aspen Institute’s Social Impact Faculty Pioneer Award for his research, service and teaching activities at the intersection of business and society.  In 2011, his course, Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, was recognized as a model of Innovative Entrepreneurship Education by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Andrew Highsmith
Dr. Andrew Highsmith

Dr. Highsmith is the author of Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan, and the Fate of the American Metropolis, one of the most comprehensive works yet written on the history of inequality and metropolitan development in modern America. The book was published in July 2015 by the University of Chicago Press and won the 2016 American Historical Association Pacific Coast Branch Book Award. Demolition Means Progress 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. Dr. 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.

UEI founder David Tarver will present the keynote address at the Flint Community Program and Reception, which will take place on Wed. Oct. 19 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Mott Community College Event Center. 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. He is the author of “Proving Ground: A Memoir,” chronicling his childhood in Flint, his educational pursuits and his entrepreneurial journey.

The Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium convenes entrepreneurs and thought leaders in business, academia, community organizations and government to facilitate innovative business solutions that bring economic opportunity and quality of life improvements to urban communities. Major sponsors for #UES2016 include University of Michigan-Flint School of Management, Mott Community College, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship, U-M Innovate Blue, Skypoint Ventures, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The complete list of sponsors can be found at

New to this year’s symposium are the “Give Us What You Got” community pitch sessions that elicit business ideas, community improvement suggestions, and gripes from everyday Flint residents. This year’s event will also showcase the finals of two business model competitions – the Urban Infrastructure Challenge and the Urban Jobs Challenge. Winners will be selected and prizes awarded during the event.

Details on Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016

  • When: #UES2016 begins on Wednesday Oct. 19 with an evening Community Program and Reception. Thursday is the Conference Program, which will consist of speakers and panel discussions, and will be followed by a “Business Matrix” networking reception at the Flint Farmers Market. Friday’s “Accelerate U” Seminars Program will include compelling presentations on topics of great interest to actual and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Where: The Wednesday Community Program will take place at the Mott Community College Event Center. The Thursday Conference Program will be held at the U-M Northbank Center in downtown Flint, followed by the “Business Matrix” reception at the Flint Farmers Market. The Friday “Accelerate U” Seminars Program will take place at the Mott Community College Regional Technology Center. See the UEI web site for details.
  • Cost: The Wednesday night community reception is free, but pre-registration required. Registration cost for the Thursday programs, including the Conference and Business Matrix Reception, is $25.00. Registration for the Friday Seminars Program is $25.00.
  • Registration: advance registration is required; purchase tickets online at
  • 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.