Detroit Metro CVB: Bankruptcy Won’t Affect Conferences

After the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, some voiced concerns about the services it will be able to offer in the near future. Its convention bureau says the city is equipped to continue supporting conferences.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify that money to execute the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo has been raised by the Detroit Metro CVB.

The City of Detroit may be going through tough times, but its meetings industry is staying strong.

That’s the message the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is making clear this week, days after the city’s unprecedented municipal bankruptcy was announced. More details:

The basics of the bankruptcy: Facing $18.5 billion in liabilities and unable to restructure using other means, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy last week. “We’re not the only city that’s going to struggle through what we’re going through,” Mayor Dave Bing told Bloomberg Businessweek. “We may be one of the first. We are the largest, but we absolutely will not be the last. And so we have got to set a benchmark in terms of how to fix our cities and come back from this tragedy.” The legal situation is complex, with more than 100,000 creditors likely to be affected, including thousands of municipal retirees. A state court has already ruled that the bankruptcy filing violates the Michigan Constitution and ordered Gov. Rick Snyder to withdraw it. However, that ruling is considered unlikely to affect the filing, which took place in federal court.

Meetings sector still going strong: Soon after the bankruptcy became news,  Detroit Metro CVB President and CEO Larry Alexander began working to inform the public that the city’s convention industry—responsible for millions of dollars in the city’s economy—isn’t flagging. “I can confidently assure you that Detroit is open for business and thriving more than ever before, despite its financial troubles,” he told The Detroit Free Press. Development is ongoing, and Alexander touted police and fire investments, emphasizing safety throughout the metro area, especially downtown.

In 2015, ASAE will hold its Annual Meeting & Exposition in Detroit. In a statement, President and CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE, expressed support for the CVB and confidence in the city’s ability to host the event.

“On behalf of our volunteer leaders, members, and stakeholders, ASAE has a vested interest in Detroit,” Graham said. “The obvious question is, are we concerned about the Annual Meeting? We have the utmost confidence in Detroit Metro CVB and their many partners who are focused on creating a tremendous experience for ASAE members. We also know the city is progressing through their restructuring, and the CVB has raised money to execute the 2015 Annual Meeting & Exposition. And we are hopeful that this move will bring Detroit back as a city and community.”

Alexander is optimistic that no events will be canceled as a result of the bankruptcy.

“So far, everyone has said they’re committed,” he said (complete with a knock on wood) at a press conference, according to MLive.

Detroit's city skyline. (photo by Bernt Rostad/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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