Countdown to Redefining the Good Life

by Allison BurtkaThe Sustainable Brands SB’17 conference is coming to Detroit soon—on May 22. The Erb Institute is a Sustainable Brands Conference Partner for this event, and the institute helped bring the conference to Detroit. The conference’s theme is “Redefining the Good Life.” Here, Erb Institute Managing Director Terry Nelidov talks about what he’s looking forward to.

Q: What will the setting of Detroit add to the conference’s conversations about business sustainability and redefining the good life?

A: We are interested in highlighting the role of business leadership—not just companies and not just community organizations, but leaders across the private sector, the nonprofit sector and government who are leading the revitalization in Detroit. You can see it happening downtown and in Midtown, but one of the huge challenges is how to expand that activity and more quickly reach the rest of Detroit. From the Erb Institute’s perspective, we’re most interested in the role of business leaders in expanding and accelerating that access—including jobs and economic opportunity—beyond those hubs.

Q: What do you hope the conference will achieve?

A: We hope that it will start a dialogue. This is an incredible opportunity to bring business along with community groups, nonprofits and city government representatives to the table to talk about the role of business in leading urban revitalization.

Also, Sustainable Brands has been thinking about how to make a tangible impact on the host city of Detroit. The idea is to open the opportunity inside Cobo Center to Detroit at large. It’s leveraging the power of the more than 1,000 participants—from some of the biggest brands in the world—for positive, lasting impact in Detroit.

Q: What is something specific that you’re looking forward to seeing personally?

A: The conference is organizing community visits—they’re creating all these cool opportunities for the participants to get out and see a city that I think is one of the most exciting cities in America today. We all know the incredible challenges Detroit has, but few of us see the opportunities unless you’re there up close and personal. Through these community visits, conference visitors from all over the world will be able to insert themselves into a day in the life of Detroit, down to the neighborhood level. They will see small nonprofits, community projects and cultural events—or go on walking tours, for example.

Sustainable Brands made a conscious decision to move this conference to Detroit and to highlight the city’s transition—and to open participants’ eyes to all this opportunity happening in the city. This includes both business opportunity and what we talk about at Erb so much: the impact of business beyond profit, and the opportunity to create tangible social and environmental benefits through business.