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Meet Alex


About Alex


  • Nouvel Catholic Central High School (Saginaw, MI)

  • B.S.E. - Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

  • M.S. - Accountancy, University of Illinois

Work Experience:

  • Michigan Department of Transportation
    • Construction Oversight - Roads, Bridges, Drains​
  • Conestoga Rovers & Associates
    • Environmental Engineer​
  • Duff & Phelps / Manwell Consulting (Self Employed) / BDO USA
    • Infrastructure Asset Appraiser​​
  • Co-Founder - Hostel Detroit (North Corktown)


Alex Manwell was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, to parents who were lifelong public servants. His mother, Kathy, was a public school English teacher and guidance counselor, while his father, Terry, was an assistant prosecutor and reserve officer with the United States Coast Guard.

Alex and his sister, Colleen, grew up watching as their parents struggled against the cuts to public funding under Republican Governor John Engler. His mother’s job got increasingly difficult as funding continued to decrease for education, yet she remained determined to help the kids in Saginaw who could only have a better future through education. His father, meanwhile, worked tirelessly to keep the city safe as an assistant prosecutor as Saginaw’s fortunes continued to decline - a fate shared by so many other industrial Midwest cities. Terry still found time to do more, coaching high school tennis and volleyball teams when he wasn’t stationed with the Coast Guard reserve on Lake Huron and Lake Saint Clair.


Throughout college at the University of Michigan, Alex learned firsthand how to fix the damn roads - as a Construction Manager Co-Op with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). He oversaw the construction of bridge, highway, and water infrastructure projects on behalf of the State.

When Alex graduated with a degree in civil & environmental engineering his parents, exhausted from battling the bureaucracies of the public sector, warned him to stay away. Like many Michigan parents, they hoped their children could find success in a place that understood the importance of investing in its people and communities.


In the next decade, Alex worked with companies in Detroit and across the world to help evaluate and appraise infrastructure. He advised CFOs, bankers, and investors on the value of their property and equipment; inspected power plants, factories, water systems, refineries, warehouses, solar farms and wind turbines. He also worked as an environmental engineer at a firm in Metro Detroit, advising clients like Ford, General Motors, and Consumers Energy on cleaning up their factories and ensuring they met their public commitments to clean air and water.

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Alex also understood the power of Detroit’s story, and was determined to help share it with more people around the world. With friends, Alex built and opened Hostel Detroit in 2011 - the first hostel in Detroit - which has since welcomed tens of thousands of tourists to Detroit from every state and 80+ countries. He heard countless stories from Hostel guests who fell in love with Detroit during their stay- and who decided to stay, buy homes, start businesses, and build their lives right here in SE Michigan.

Image by David Martin

Today, Michigan has an infrastructure crisis, and the east side of Metro Detroit is especially vulnerable. Our pipes, ponds, and pumps are obsolete, and our water system lacks capacity. The result? Flooded basements, sewage overflows into the lake, headaches, and money down the drain.
It affects us all.


The American Society of Civil Engineers recently graded Michigan’s infrastructure a D+. And yet, of the 148 elected members of the Michigan House and Senate, there are 0 (zero) civil engineers.

Alex knows we’re running out of time to fix our infrastructure and protect our fresh water. He knows we need elected leadership with the energy, experience, and know-how to get things done. No drama, no finger-pointing; just fixing the problem.

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