Detroit Homecoming encourages natives to give back to the city from afar

The owner of Kuzzos Chicken and Waffles announces a second location as he returns for Detroit Homecoming.

Detroit native Ron Bartell, a former Lions cornerback, is back in the Motor City for the fifth annual Detroit Homecoming with some good news -- a second restaurant opening in 2020 in the Midtown area. But he also knows it's important not to forget about the neighborhoods 

"You see all the stuff that's taking place downtown and midtown but we need to get into the heart of the neighborhoods. You have to help improve people, the schools, those are big challenges ahead," he said. "The business community needs to be lockstep in arm with the city as well. We need the city to get on point with what they're doing and as entrepreneurs we have to be willing to invest in these areas and provide jobs and opportunities, which is what we are trying to do with Kuzzos."

Bartell is one of many who returned for Detroit Homecoming, an annual event started by a New Yorker who wanted to encourage talent to return to the Motor City after he saw momentum building.

"So we launched the homecoming five years ago with relatively modest hopes and plans. We got 125 ex-pats to come back that year. They were enormously enthusiastic. The town embraced the whole idea -- sponsorships, the political structure, the business structure worked extraordinarily well," said creator Jim Hayes.

So well that it's grown to 249 ex-pats come back to Detroit but not with ideas alone but also money and philanthropic energy to spend in the city they used to call home.  

"They can't come back the next year unless they've done something either philanthropically or commercially for the city. So we track exactly what they do, what contribution, what participation, what investments they make," Hayes said.

Right now the total amount of investments former Detroiters have made ois $ 300 million. And the returning Detroiters get a progress report of what's happening as they come home. 

Bill Ford Jr. spoke to the homecomers about the new facility in Corktown and the plans to renovate the old train station. The goal isn't to bring Detroiters back but for them to do good work from wherever they are.  

"Our intent was to reach out, reconnect them with their city and hopefully inspire them to do something for their city but along the way a whole bunch of them come back," Hayes said.