During a three-day event in Detroit to bring 160 successful former people from Detroit to look at the motor city as a prime opportunity for business, the highlight of this event was a wide-ranging chat by Warren Buffett and Dan Gilbert, billionaires.
The Oracle of Omaha mentioned that Detroit is much more appealing in post bankruptcy. He believes that investing in the city now is the right time because of excellent business opportunities that can be found in situations where investors are typically scared to venture.
“It was important for Detroit to clear the slate,” by filing bankruptcy, said Buffett, as Gilbert and he were on stage on Thursday afternoon at the College for Creative Studies. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO was a participant in the Detroit Homecoming event.
“We would buy a company in Detroit,” said Buffett.
Buffett mentioned that back in the 1970s he had a small ownership stake in the Ambassador Bridge, the internationally known bridge owned by Manual “Matty” Moroun, who is very controversial. Buffett had to eventually let go of his plans to purchase the bridge after “too much delay” from the government in Canada.
“Too bad,” said Gilbert.
The list of those invited to this three-day event focused on the elite: company presidents, entertainers, sports stars, journalists, billionaires and venture capitalists. The agenda provided tours throughout the city, a Chene Park concert and the Globe Building Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center, a facility that is not finished yet but part of the rebounding riverfront in Detroit. Other incentives were a driverless vehicle on Belle Isle and taking batting practice at Comerica Park.
Thursday’s biggest highlights:
- Whole Foods of Detroit has achieved such a great success in this city that they plan on opening a second store there, we learned according to co-CEO Walter Robb. He did not provide any details as to when the store would open.
- Christopher Ilitch spoke about an entertainment district spanning 45 blocks and worth $650 million. This transformative investment would connect downtown and midtown.
Mike Dugan, Mayor of Detroit, asked the invitees to help with the scarcity of home mortgages obtained in Detroit. Lending companies only approved 550 mortgages it Detroit during 2012. “The biggest single problem to restoring blight is we can’t get mortgages.”