Midwest Lost Manufacturing
Midwest Lost Manufacturing

Alibaba to host conference in Detroit for entrepreneurs


Alibaba group announced today they will be hosting Gateway 17 in Detroit, Michigan on June 20-21, 2017.

Gateway 17 is a new conference to help entrepreneurs, U.S. businesses, and farmers. This conference will explore opportunities to reach millions of consumers in China.

The inaugural conference will take place at the Cobo Center in Detroit. You can find out more about attending the conference here.

Expected keynote speakers include UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney, Anchor and Executive Editor Charlie Rose, and Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma.

Organizers expect to draw nearly 1000 attendees from across the United States. And the conference already attracted a list of well-known eCommerce related sponsors.

  • UPS
  • Shopify
  • ChannelAdvisor
  • Pitney Bowes
  • BCG
  • GS1
  • Fung Global Retail & Tech
  • Deloitte Digital
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce

The event also includes category breakout sessions, business solutions sessions, and marketplace networking opportunities.


In a letter to potential participants, Jack Ma points out a few interesting facts about the opportunity to trade with Chinese consumers.

Alibaba started about 2 years ago to work with U.S. businesses to identify opportunities in the Chinese market. So far, they have helped thousands of businesses and believe this is only the beginning.

The Chinese middle-class may exceed 600 million consumers by 2020. That is near twice the size of the entire population of the United States.

Last year, China surpassed the U.S. as the largest retail market with spending topping $4.84 trillion. By next year, China’s online spending will be greater than the rest of the world combined.


According to Jack Ma, Detroit was chosen as it is home to some of America’s greatest ingenuity and innovation.

But Detroit is likely not only a symbolic location choice by Alibaba. It may also help Alibaba to educate middle America on the positive opportunities of global trade.

The U.S. Midwest suffered the most with manufacturing job losses through the years. Because shifting production from the US to less expensive labor markets has resulted in many job losses.

By helping SMBs in the Midwest reach consumers in China, Alibaba hopes to boost U.S. employment. In turn, this should help Alibaba change opinions in Washington about significantly restructuring trade deals.


Selling to the Chinese market does have some pitfalls. It will be interesting to see if Alibaba addresses the concern about knocks offs and fakes.

Sending a U.S. produced product to Chinese consumers is likely going to increase the risk of cheap knock-offs flooding the global market. That is one of the biggest fears of U.S. producers.

There is a growing Chinese consumer base that values genuine foreign produced products. This group may be much smaller than the Chinese middle class that Jack Ma suggests in his letter to participants.

It will be interesting to see if and how Alibaba addresses those fears.

Certain market categories like agricultural products, limited edition products, designer products, etc. are a good fit. But to reach the goal of a million jobs for Americans, will require mass produced products.

How will Alibaba convince skittish U.S. companies with mass appeal products to sell to China?

Do you fear to sell to China? Let us know your thoughts on selling to China. We love to hear what you think how your business category might fit into a Chinese consumer market strategy.

If you liked this article and would like to engage with other small business entrepreneurs selling on marketplaces, join our . You can also find us on , , , and or sign up for our newsletter below.


We do not sell your information. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *