Partners representing West Michigan at SXSW Michigan House


Courtesy Michigan House

For the third year, Michigan House will be finding a temporary home at SXSW in Austin, Texas — and this time, they’re bringing Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

Michigan House, a traveling pop-up space that promotes the state by sharing Michigan-made products, companies, art and music, will be attending the SXSW conference and festival in March.

Bliss, who will take part in a panel titled “Making a Place for Equity,” is one of several West Michigan representatives joining the Michigan House team.

Michigan House will take up residency at the 700 Trinity entrance to Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Austin from March 11 through March 14.

West Michigan connection

Michigan House will host six panel discussions on March 11, most of which feature a West Michigan contingent as part of the discussion.

Bliss will be joined by James Chapman of Rock Ventures, April Boyler of Build Institute and Pamela Lewis of New Economy Initiative. The panel will “look at all the strategies employed by Michigan’s communities to improve outcomes for segments of the population often disproportionately overlooked by traditional economic development programs.”

One panel discussion, “Clogging the Drain: Creative Talent Attraction,” is made up entirely of West Michigan panelists, who will talk about using creativity, design and community organizations to address the talent drought in the region. Panelists include Petey Stephanak of Southwest Michigan First, Leif Norland of Whirlpool, Mike Roeder of Fabri-Kal Corporation and Bjorn Green of TowerPinkster.

ArtPrize’s Jori Bennett will take part in a four-person panel discussion titled “Innovation in Cultural Tourism,” which will look at how Michigan has attracted visitors through the creative industries.

Ron Kitchens of Southwest Michigan First and Daniel Williams of West Michigan Center for Art and Technology make up part of “The Creative Difference: Teaching Innovation,” which will examine how collaboration with the state’s creative industries prepares students for the real world.

Finally, Hannah Murray Nalter of Steelcase and Mike Morin of Seamless will be on hand to discuss “Why the Rustbelt? IoT in the Midwest,” an exploration of how the region’s infrastructure provides an opportunity for that sector.

A Michigan House Music Meetup on March 14 will feature a tap takeover from Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. and performances by several Michigan-based bands, including Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds. Also performing is Detroit-based Flint Eastwood, whose trip will be sponsored by Cat Footwear, a brand of Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide.

Cat Footwear will also sponsor a pre-festival recording session at Stone House Recording Studios in Grand Rapids.

“We’re all about empowering our local community to accomplish bold things, and similarly, Michigan House brings together all of the doers, big thinkers, risk-takers and generation-makers from our great state,” said Dani Zizak, chief marketing officer, Cat Footwear. “We’re excited to head to SXSW to celebrate art, music, culture, ideas and to do what we do best: make a scene.”

Michigan House’s West Michigan partners

AMI Entertainment Network, Grand Rapids

ArtPrize, Grand Rapids

Brightly, Grand Rapids

Cat Footwear, Rockford

Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids

Meijer, Walker

Southwest Michigan First, Kalamazoo

Start Garden, Grand Rapids

Steelcase, Grand Rapids

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