Popular entrepreneurial conference returns to the Motor City this May

April 23, 2010

DETROIT, April 23, 2010-The popular day-long conference for emerging entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan is returning this year on two days, May 25 and 26. This year's free conferences are tailored toward individuals who missed last year's conferences.

The FastTrac to the Future conferences will host about 1,000 attendees over the two-day event, bringing together displaced workers, the unemployed and people looking for alternative employment options. The conferences are from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Wayne State University's McGregor Memorial Conference Center. Individuals seriously exploring entrepreneurship and undaunted by the risks will find a wealth of guidance and resources during planned breakout sessions.

Pulitzer Prize nominee, vocal community advocate and successful entrepreneur Clifton Taulbert will kick off the conferences with a unique message of empowerment and hope for Detroit entrepreneurs. Taulbert, hailed by Time magazine as "one of the nation's outstanding entrepreneurs," received inspiration and encouragement from the elders he knew in the Mississippi Delta where he grew up.

In 1994, Taulbert founded the Building Community Institute, which leads sessions that seek to engage professional workplaces in the process of building community as an investment opportunity. The Building Communities Institute is a partner in a Kauffman Foundation project with the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, LLC, an organization that provides interactive real-world entrepreneurship education programs for individuals and organizations worldwide. Taulbert is the author of a distinguished list of books including the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Last Train North and the best-selling Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, which was made into a critically acclaimed movie. A video of Taulbert is available at

FastTrac to the Future, which was funded in 2009 by the New Economy Initiative in partnership with the Kansas City-based Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation, aims to create 1,200 new startups over three years.

The program's breakout sessions will give guidance and resources to people seriously exploring the promise of entrepreneurship and who are ready to learn strategies around some of the pitfalls. This includes displaced workers, the unemployed and people looking for alternative employment options.

Additionally, on May 24, TechTown will host two half-day programs called Navigating the FastTrac for approximately 1,000 entrepreneurs who have already graduated from entrepreneurial training programs since the FastTrac to the Future initiative began in the summer of 2009. The three days will see the gathering of 2,000 entrepreneurs who will reshape the economic landscape of Southeast Michigan.

Advanced registration is required. Those interested in attending should visit for more event details, speaker bios and a link to the registration page. FastTrac to the Future is offered only on May 25 and May 26 this year. A final conference series will be offered sometime in 2011.

Local and national experts will discuss the challenges of starting a new business in seven different session topics on entrepreneurship, including:

• Financing options for startups

• Franchising

• Intellectual property do's and don'ts

• Service and lifestyle businesses

• Finding your role in a startup

Attendees will have the opportunity to talk individually with advisors about their business goals and explore suitable entrepreneurial training programs like the award-winning FastTrac®, a premiere business development program that has been operating for 15 years. FastTrac® is comprised of quick, intensive 3-to-10-week training initiatives for unemployed or underemployed individuals seriously considering entrepreneurship instead of finding another job.

Four FastTrac® programs will be available locally following the event:

First Step FastTrac®-The desired outcome of this program is a written feasibility plan that helps you determine if your idea can be turned into a profitable business, and whether the life of an entrepreneur is right for you.

FastTrac® NewVenture„§-Designed specifically for entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development, this program helps you uncover answers and determine which questions to ask.

FastTrac® TechVenture„§-Take an analytical look at your business and discover what you need to consider in starting, operating, funding or growing a technology- or life sciences-based company.

FastTrac® GrowthVenture„§-Targeted specifically to entrepreneurs who have experience running their businesses, this program focuses on the issues you need to make critical decisions about your business vision and strategy, and investigate and plan for strategic growth.

FastTrac to the Future events are managed by TechTown and are supported by Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, Biotechnology Business Consultants, Bizdom U, Detroit Micro-Enterprise Fund, Entrepreneurial Initiative of Southeast Michigan, Great Lakes Angels, Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest, MichBio, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, Microsoft BizSpark, Mid-States Capital, MIT Forum, the New Enterprise Forum, NextEnergy, Oakland County, Operation ABLE of Michigan, SCORE, ShoreBank Enterprise, TiE-Detroit, TechBA Michigan, TechOne Printing and Wayne State University.

The Kauffman Foundation is a key partner in FastTrac to the Future, providing resources and speakers for the event.

The New Economy Initiative is one of the nation's most expansive philanthropic partnerships dedicated to economic transformation in the region hardest hit by manufacturing job loss and the global economic crisis. NEI includes $100 million in funding commitments from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg, the John S. and James L .Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Skillman Foundation. The 10 participating foundations are leading the implementation and governance of the Initiative. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which initiated the collaborative, is serving as its administrative home.

TechTown is an urban community of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and corporate partners creating an internationally influential village in Detroit. TechTown brings the resources of Wayne State University to high-technology startup companies to diversify and strengthen Michigan's economy in high-growth emerging industries. For more information, visit

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.