This week I have been focusing on my research project of "Assignment Detroit." It is quite the undertaking and I do not see myself finishing anytime soon. My goal is to complete this project by next Friday, leaving myself two weeks to work on my "Lincoln and Reagan in the Midwest" project. I would start writing about what I am learning but the information is overwhelming and will figure out a way to post the project when completed.
At Monday night's event with Byron Johnson I met a senior fellow of the Sagamore Institute named Larry Ingraham. I spoke with him for about twenty minutes that night and looked at his card later to find out he is the "Director of Economic Development and International Trade." This man is in control of the field that I am very interested in. With the information I e-mailed him thanking him for the talk and asked him if he would like to do lunch sometime. He was very appreciative of the e-mail and he said Thursday he would love to.
So yesterday I came into Sagamore, started on my work when I received an e-mail from Larry stating that he was running a little late and he was wondering if I would like to attend some meetings with him after our lunch. I decided this would be a great way to spend the afternoon so I complied. We went to Weber Grill in downtown Indy, and let me tell you that place has some excellent barbecue. He explained his life story and it is truly fascinating. He was raised in Adrian, MI and lost his father and mother by the time he was thirteen. He went to live with his aunt and uncle who also lived close by in Adrian. He joined the Air Force to avoid being drafted and going to Vietnam. He served there for four years and went around South East Asia as a dental assistant. He eventually attending the University of Michigan in Asian studies and began to attend conferences that were between American and Japanese students. He also went to Japan two summers in a row and began to love it. He went to Japan and served in Tokyo as the director of the American-Japanese relations office. His first daughter was born and decided to come back to the United States and moved to Indy in 1983. In 1990 he started his own consulting firm for economic development.
Our first meeting was at the offices of Bingham-McHale, Attorneys at Law, which happens to be ranked the best law firm in Indiana in seven different criteria. The reason we were attending is because the mayor of Marion, a city 45 minutes north of Indy, was speaking there regarding what he has done towards economic development for his city. Interestingly enough one may recall him, Wayne Seybold, from the 1988 Olympics where he competed with his sister is pair figure skating. He has done some amazing things to bring companies back from Asia to his city, creating new jobs. We were the first to arrive and therefore I was able to speak with the director of economic development for Marion and his Chief-of-Staff. Pretty soon many who worked at Bingham-McHale were filtering in and I began extreme-networking. I was handing out my card left and right and receiving some cards including an attorney and a partner of the firm. Thank goodness I dressed very GQ that day. Someone from the law firm actually came up to me and asked if I was interning there and introduced herself. I told her no, that I was interning at Sagamore Institute from Eureka College.
I was in conversation with a few people of the firm and someone asked me about myself and what I was doing at the Sagamore Institute. I began speaking about how I was creating a memo of Assignment Detroit which was an effort to discover all of the positive aspects of the city. Then the attorney, Margaret Christensen, asked me, "Well what is good about Detroit?" Well I took this opportunity to clear the name of Detroit and ended up giving a lesson about the city of Detroit and all of the positive things happening there for ten minutes. I had the attention of many lawyers and it was a very interesting experience. I also spread the knowledge of where Eureka College was and how it is well on the rise to becoming a highly revered academic institution.
After the mayor spoke, a partner of the firm named Daniel L. Boots, came up to Larry and I and I introduced myself to him. We spoke for awhile and exchanged cards when he made me an awesome offer. He told me if I ever needed anything from Bingham-McHale to shoot him an e-mail or give him a call and he would be more than glad to assist me. I also spoke with the mayor and he assured me I was in good hands if I was with Larry. It's safe to say I had a good time.
The next meeting took place at a Starbucks downtown with Aaron Goetz who is the Head of the Indianapolis-Hangzhou sister city committee. Hangzhou is a city in China located in the area that is similar to the NYC and LA of America. His job is to find ways Hangzhou can benefit Indy, by strengthening the economy and becoming more culturally aware of the country. He asked to meet with Larry for advice and inquired about him coming to speak to his staff. They spoke for an hour and a half and I tried to absorb as much as I could.
I arrived back at Sagamore around 4:45, went up to my workstation packed up my things and left for the day. Today I making the trip back to Eureka in order to tend to some business there. I will be back in Indianapolis late Sunday night.