Take 5: What Comes First, Talent or Business?

By: Paul Vachon

In the wake of Detroit’s failed bid to host Amazon’s second world headquarters, how much of a factor was Detroit’s talent pool? Many business leaders believe if Amazon came to Detroit, talent would follow. However, Amazon cited a lack of existing talent in Detroit as a key factor in being left off the final list.

So, which is it? Does talent follow business or does business invest in locations with an existing talent pool?

National economic experts say its both while also noting the importance of investing local infrastructure to retain homegrown talent and positively impact their quality of life. Urban expert Richard Florida of the University of Toronto correlates the linkage between areas with mass transit lines, quality educational facilities, and public green spaces with strong economic growth.

As the region’s leaders work together to position Detroit as a contender for the next major investment, here is what some leaders in education, economic development, city government and business had to say:

David DeMuth, CEO, Doner Company

“Attracting talent can’t wait. If you’re running a business which relies on talent, you must compete on a national basis. You need to attract talent from some of the nation’s greatest cities, like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago — as well as emerging places like Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tenn. We can’t wait for the infrastructure to be upgraded. We must outline a compelling opportunity to a candidate using the assts we already have to make the argument. Talent waits for no one.”

Dan Ngoyi, Director, Talent Acquisition, Quicken Loans Family of Companies

“I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. One priority does not have to precede the other. After Quicken Loans first moved downtown, and after Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy, some infrastructure enhancements occurred. As more companies arrived, the resulting talent surge drove additional improvements, such as the QLine. So, the two priorities can certainly feed off each other, and develop simultaneously.

Justin Robinson, Vice President, Business Attraction, Detroit Regional Chamber

“The first piece is to understand what infrastructure assets we have now as a differentiator. This will allow for employers to make a strong business case to potential employees. But then the region does need to pause and address the issue of “placemaking,” which is fundamental to our long-term success. Most people still choose job over place, but our research suggests they’re pretty close as prospective workers weigh their options.

M. Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University

“We have to approach the challenge of talent attraction and retention from all angles. Having said that, I do believe that we are losing potential talent to other cities with more advanced infrastructure. People are drawn to places for different reasons, and Southeast Michigan is attractive in many ways. The availability of excellent higher education opportunities and health care, a city in the midst of an impressive rebound, and outstanding cultural and other entertainment offerings are among the many attractions. Yet, without better infrastructure, particularly roads and public transit, it will become increasingly difficult to compete with locations such as Chicago, Boston, Denver and Pittsburgh — all places that have made substantial infrastructure investments in the recent past.”

“Certainly, some talent follows companies but more often, companies will follow talent. Studies by renowned economists have proven this theory. The unemployment rate is under 4 percent, which is extremely low; IT and engineering positions are below 2 percent. Clearly the talent pool in the United States is in a crisis. Michigan has some of the finest universities in the country but is being challenged with retaining talent. We are making strides to change this paradigm via the Marshall Plan for Talent and ChooseMichigan.org initiative.”

Ronia Kruse
President and CEO, OpTech

Jeff Donofrio, Director, Workforce Development, City of Detroit

“When a major company is looking at locating in Detroit, the first thing that they ask us about is the talent pool. This is why we are focused on building and developing the talent of Detroiters. Our goal is to increase the talent pool with our existing residents to advance our competitiveness in attracting new business investment.”

Paul Vachon is a metro Detroit freelance writer.

Mayor Mike Duggan Proclaims Oct. 7-12 Mobility Week in Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan has joined businesses across the city and region to celebrate Detroit’s global leadership in automotive next-generation mobility technology by issuing a proclamation that recognizes this week, Oct. 7-12, “Mobility Week” in Detroit.

Through collaborative efforts by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto initiative, Quicken Loans Community Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and PlanetM, TechStars Mobility and Henry Ford Health System, a number of events will take place across Detroit to showcase the industry highlighting career opportunities, the cross-section between health care and mobility, and the transformational technology being developed.

“Detroit has historically been the center of the automotive universe, and now our city is leading the way into the next generation of the industry,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “It makes perfect sense to shape the future of mobility right here in Detroit, and I’m proud to proclaim this week as Mobility Week.”

Many of the region’s assets will be on display, including Detroit’s growing startup ecosystem, technology development of the region, and the work Detroit’s Transportation and Mobility Office is engaging in the city and neighborhoods around transportation solutions.

“This proclamation calls attentions to the diverse players in mobility to celebrate our leadership in next-generation mobility,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Chamber. “We have come so far, and it is important to share and celebrate the new technology the industry offers with the public.”

Learn more about some of the Mobility Week Detroit events, including the 2018 MICHauto Summit below or visit www.mobilityweekdetroit.com.

MICHauto Summit: Explore Your Automobility Future

Oct. 10
The Beacon at One Woodward

MICHauto’s signature event engages automotive industry leaders with students and interns from regional universities, colleges and trade schools for a full day of programming. The Summit offers a unique opportunity to discuss the evolution of the automotive industry and its career pathways. Automotive and mobility industry professionals will share the career pathways with more than 160 students and interns. Conversations and topics will examine the future of the automotive, mobility and technology fields and how the industry is rapidly changing from decades past.

 

Henry Ford Health System all for you logo

The Eye, The Brain & The Auto
Oct. 7-9
MotorCity Casino

 

The 8th World Research Congress on Vision and Driving is focusing on the autonomous vehicle technology and its impact on health care. The three-day world congress will look at the way mobility technology is disrupting the way IT, big-data management and health care does business. Sessions will touch on how vision and cognition will play a key role in connected and autonomous vehicles, their development and how users interact with them. It also will highlight how the medical field can contribute and benefit from the development of driverless cars, trusts and other forms of transportation.

 

TechStars Demo Day 
Oct. 9
Detroit Film Theater

 

 

The 2018 Class of startups enrolled in the Techstars Mobility Accelerator will be center stage as they graduate from this unique mentoring program. More than a thousand investors, community members, students and representatives from the automotive and transportation industries will be in the audience to hear about new technology, autonomous advances and mobility answers from the Techstars participants. The event is the largest single-day startup and innovation event nationwide, organizers say, giving these up-and-coming entrepreneurs a venue to share their ideas and network with industry executives in real and substantial ways. Techstars with its worldwide network that focusing on helping entrepreneurs succeed offers its mobility program solely in Detroit. Its current class of 11 companies is the most diverse to date, has businesses that span a wide array of mobility solutions and comes from countries across the globe, including Hong Kong and London.

 

Detroit Moves
Oct. 10-11
Spirit Plaza

 

This free and family-friendly two-day outdoor festival brings people together with mobility companies, industry leaders and the latest in technology at Detroit’s Spirit Plaza. Now in its second year, Detroit Moves is a showcase for connected and autonomous vehicles as well as the people who make these high-tech machines, organizers say. The festival also includes art exhibits, musical performances, food and family-orientated activities such as a mobility-themed scavenger hunt. Additional activities include an educational village featuring STEM careers and area universities such as Wayne State and the Center for Creative Studies, a startup village with mobility-related startup companies and a social hour featuring food, beverage and entertainment from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 11. Some exhibitors included May Mobility, which has an autonomous transport that takes Bedrock Detroit employees around the downtown core, as well as MoGo, Maven, Chariot, Airspace and America’s Automotive Trust.

Bernstein to join panel on fifth anniversary of Detroit’s bankruptcy

Plunkett Cooney bankruptcy attorney Douglas C. Bernstein was one of the many professionals involved in the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy, which remains the largest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy ever filed. To commemorate the fifth anniversary of this historic event, Bernstein will participate in a panel discussion on July 18.

Hosted by DBusiness magazine from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Gem Theatre in Detroit, the panel discussion is part of the DBusiness Breakfast Series. The event, titled: “Detroit’s Bankruptcy: Five Years Later – Past, Present and Future,” will feature Bernstein along with former Detroit City Council Member Sheila Cockrel, Patrick O’Keefe of O’Keefe financial advisors and John Naglick, Chief Deputy CFO / Finance Director for the city of Detroit.

“It’s remarkable how Detroit made it through the bankruptcy process. It had a perfect cast of leaders to see the process through. It was historic and the solutions were very creative,” said Bernstein who serves as the Business Law Department Leader of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms. “Here we are five years later, and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. But hopefully the city will continue to have the same financial discipline in the future.”

During the city’s bankruptcy proceedings, Bernstein represented foundations that donated to the so-called “Grand Bargain” to ease pension cuts and spin off the Detroit Institute of Arts. He also served, and continues to serve, as a resource to local, regional and national media on Detroit’s emergency financial status and issues generally related to Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

Tickets for the July 18 panel discussion cost $65 and are available at the DBusiness website. Groups of 10 cost $50 per person. Prior to the start of the discussion, there will be networking reception and strolling breakfast available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

A member of Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office, Bernstein concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, loan restructuring, commercial loan documentation, bankruptcy, banking-related litigation and appeals. Prior to joining Plunkett Cooney, Bernstein worked as an in-house attorney at Michigan National Corporation for over 20 years.

Bernstein earned his undergraduate degree in 1978 from Wayne State University and his law degree in 1982 from the Detroit College of Law. Earlier this year, he became the only Michigan attorney inducted into the 2018 class of Fellows of the American College of Bankruptcy, a prestigious national organization focused on fostering excellence in bankruptcy and insolvency practice.


Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney employs approximately 300 employees, including over 150 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as in Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial law firms in the United States.

For more information about Douglas Bernstein’s participation in the DBusiness magazine panel discussion on July 18, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

 

Mayor Mike Duggan: Detroit Must Grow and Move Beyond Racially Divided History

Returning to the Mackinac Policy Conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan delivered a powerful keynote about the often-forgotten truths of Detroit’s racially charged history along with ideas of how to sustain America’s great manufacturing city by learning from its past.

“We were at a crossroads in the ’50s and ’60s,” Duggan said. “Now we are at another (crossroad), during this important time in the city’s history – we must create a Detroit for all.”

Key Takeaways

  • Detroit must be one city, for all of us.
  • Detroit is not a blank canvas; we must respect those who have lived in the city and contributed to the fabric of Detroit.
  • The government owes it to the people to prevent displacement of disadvantaged residents due to private investment.
  • Development will combat economic segregation; there will be a place for people of all incomes in all areas of Detroit.
  • Blight removal is a top priority that must continue, while preserving as many salvageable structures as possible.
  • Detroit must work to build neighborhoods of density, where daily needs of citizens can be met within walking distance.

Following Duggan’s keynote address, Paul W. Smith, host of WJR NewsTalk 760 AM, joined him on stage for a one-on-one conversation. The session was sponsored by DTE Energy and aligned with the Conference pillar of increasing economic opportunity.