Alibaba’s Gateway ’17 Opens New Doors to Chinese Market for Detroit Businesses

By Daniel Lai & Daniel A. Washington 

Alibaba Group Ltd.’s Gateway ’17 export conference held on June 20-21 at Cobo Center was the company’s first-ever event of its magnitude, attracting more than 3,000 businesses, entrepreneurs and media from 48 states, and many from the Detroit region.

“I cannot imagine a more fitting or welcoming place for our first Gateway event,” said Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, about the importance of Detroit during his opening remarks.

As a global leader in facilitating transactions and exchanges of goods and services for small businesses, entrepreneurs and consumers in China, Alibaba is looking to open new doors for businesses across the Midwest.

“Today I want to tell the people: If you miss the opportunity of selling products to China, you will miss the opportunity, you will miss the future,” said Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, in a conversation with PBS anchor Charlie Rose.

The opening ceremony included a surprise visit and remarks from local businessman Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures. Gilbert spoke briefly during a fireside chat with Lisa Ling, executive producer and host of “This is Life” on CNN.

“The truth is you can’t be afraid of failure in business,” Gilbert said. “You have to embrace it and all the opportunities afforded you to be successful – if you don’t you will never gain wealth.”

The conference included several keynotes and remarks from local and national figures, including:  Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises CEO Marcus Lemonis, UPS CEO David Abney,and many more.

View highlights from the Conference here.

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma: The Future Belongs to Small Businesses

The future belongs to small businesses that are flexible enough to embrace e-commerce, Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, predicted during a poignant keynote address at the Gateway ’17 export forum in Detroit.

Ma told the standing room-only crowd that the dominance of giant companies is declining as more small companies can cheaply and easily market their services on the internet.

“The internet is the opportunity of a lifetime for small businesses,” Ma said.

Customers that were once out of reach for startups that lacked the capital or know-how to expand is no longer an obstacle for those who have the will to learn how to move beyond their local market.

“If you believe it, you can make it happen,” he said, adding that customers are more interested in products and companies that cater specifically to their needs versus standardization.

And China is a willing market.

Rattling off statistic after statistic, Ma said 200 million Chinese customers a day purchase goods on their phones and Alibaba currently ships more than 60 million packages a day. He expects that number to increase to 1 billion packages in less than 10 years.

“Imagine the possibilities for American businesses and jobs,” he said. “Don’t ignore China as we shift from an export country to an import country. In the next decade, China’s middle class will increase to 500-600 million and with that, the demand for quality American products will be huge.”

So how does one tap into the Chinese market?

That is where companies like Alibaba and other e-commerce platforms come into play, Ma said.

The website currently has more than 7,000 U.S. companies selling products to China. Ma said he would like to increase that number to 1 million in the next five years. Doing so requires rapid adoption of new technology and a willingness to loosen restrictions in border-to-border trade.

“Think of us as a virtual mall with nearly half a billion shoppers buying from sellers that operate their own online storefronts. We are already a gateway for thousands of global brands, retailers and companies to sell to Chinese consumers,” Ma said.

Ma has traveled the world meeting with top government leaders to drive home his message that small businesses should lead globalization while also encouraging the creation of free trade zones specifically for those businesses.

Turning his attention to the business owners in the room, Ma also acknowledged that the road ahead for entrepreneurs is not without its own challenges. He himself experienced the heartache of rejection from venture capitalists, nearly leading his company to bankruptcy before finding success. Even at a young age, Ma said his applications to work for companies like KFC and to attend college at Harvard University were rejected. Still, he persisted.

Drawing on those lessons, Ma offered his advice for business success:

  • Believe in the future
  • Love your customer
  • Have a vision and hire smart individuals who believe in that vision
  • Focus on good products and customer service
  • Stay focused

He also offered a warning to those companies who have not caught up to the digital race:

“We are in the midst of the next technological revolution. Pay attention to the next 30 years. The companies that make the best use of the internet will win,” he said.

For more information on tapping into the Chinese market, visit www.alizila.com.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Daniel A. Washington is an integrated marketing specialist at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Lawn Academy Students Explore Exciting Careers During Chamber’s Youth Day

By Daniel A. Washington

For the first time ever, the Detroit Regional Chamber welcomed 20 students from The Lawn Academy along with more than 10 local professionals for a day of learning and career exploration, on April 27.

“We decided this year to do things differently,” said Jennifer Stark, human resources specialist for the Chamber. “In addition to having Chamber employees bring in their children for the day, we dedicated some time and resources to a special group of students to come learn about the Chamber and experience what it is we have to offer.”

Founded in 2009 by Eric Miller and his wife, The Lawn Academy, a nonprofit organization, provides African-American male youth, ages 12 to 18, a chance to serve their community through lawn care service while partaking in a college immersion program. Students serviced more than 500 lawns last year while helping more than 140 seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities across Detroit.

“We aim to help these young men take the next step by giving back to their community while staying focused on their individualistic paths to higher education and success,” Miller said.


RELATED: TRILLIUM ACADEMY SENIORS HEAR CAREER LESSONS FROM CHAMBER MILLENNIALS 


Students spent the better part of the day touring the Chamber offices while stopping and talking to employees about their job functions, engaging with several small groups of professionals about career opportunities, and playing a trivia game about the Chamber and best practices for social media.

Visiting professionals and Chamber staff led meaningful conversations about careers in law, finance and information technology. Other companies and organizations that were represented included Develop Detroit, University of Michigan, Henry Ford College, Century Partners and Wayne County Community College District.

“We are really appreciative of the Chamber and how it opened its doors to our young men,” said Miller. “The day was just flat-out awesome.”

For more information or to support the The Lawn Academy click here.

Daniel A. Washington is an integrated marketing specialist at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

More from Daniel. A. Washington:

Cracking the Millennial Code

Millennial Truth: A Closer Look at How Gen-Y Work in Today’s Workforce

Millennial Truth: A Closer Look at How Gen-Y Work in Today’s Workforce

By Daniel A. Washington

Kelly Services’ Mark Lanfear, vice president and global practice leader of life sciences solutions, has spent years helping health care companies get the most out of their millennial talent and the rapidly changing workforce.

millennialQuick to point out the surge of millennials entering the workforce, Lanfear describes the often-misunderstood employee group as “driven and more talented” than some employers would like to admit. The thought leader in talent management credits millennials for being efficient and often times the most valuable employees.

“I think the biggest myth when it comes to millennials is that they have an attention problem or a devotion or a loyalty problem,” Lanfear said during an interview with the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It’s just that problems get solved more quickly and because of the way in which millennials focus on their work they don’t spend nearly as much time on finding solutions as previous generations.”


RELATED: Attracting And Engaging Millennials Is Much More Than Beer Carts And Slurpee Machines


Recalling a recent conversation with his older brother, Lanfear said millennials attract attention from industry leaders and companies across the region for good reasons. He said he believes that the rapidly increasing entrant to the workforce is changing the way companies think about employment and what they must offer.

“Right now, quicker than any other time, millennials are forced to take the wheel,” he said. “We talk about millennials being 30 percent of the population but they are already 40 percent of management.”

The staggering statistic he said is due to what he refers to as the “silver tsunami,” a common metaphor to describe the aging workforce population.

Lanfear,Mark

Mark Lanfear, vice president and global practice leader of life sciences solutions at Kelly Services

“We have what I like to call the ‘silver tsunami’ happening faster than anyone could have predicted. This is the population (Generation X) that is leaving the workforce,” he said. “Not just because of age, because that’s happening with the baby boomers, but also because a lot of people enjoyed a lot of success in the 1980s, and so there are pockets of folks around the globe that are financially secure and are stepping away from the workforce.”

With retention and attraction on the minds of business leaders, Lanfear encourages a different perspective on the matter: maximize a millennial’s potential by providing challenges and assignments related to their passions and let go of the idea of retaining them.

“Retention is a word that I have been asking clients to move away from,” said Lanfear. “Retaining a millennial workforce is going to be a challenge because it’s against their nature to stay especially when there is not a challenge or passion for them to commit to.”

Despite the misconceptions and labels associated with millennials, Lanfear said he is confident that as more research is done, those in the age group will become more understood. The numbers suggest that management styles and work cultures in the future will be defined by millennials who will be forced to leave a lasting mark in their roles in leadership positions.

“The wheel is just simply being handed to millennials fast,” he said. “So, I think we will see a lot changes as to how they are perceived in the coming years.”

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Read more from Daniel A. Washington:

Trillium Academy Seniors Hear Career Lessons from Chamber Millennials

Lear Innovation Center, Detroit’s Latest Automotive Design Incubator, Opens Downtown

Cracking the Millennial Code

Metro Detroit businesses shifting culture, workspaces to attract younger talent

By Daniel A. Washington

With a proven track record of innovation and career advancement, the region’s auto industry, suppliers and service providers are becoming leading destinations for millennial talent.

Companies such as Lear Corp., TI Automotive, P3 and Tweddle Group have invested greatly in Southeast Michigan and are leading the way in reinventing themselves to appeal to a new generation.

Lear Corp. has invested in a unique office space design that appeal to top talent among millennials.

Lear Corp. has invested in a unique office space design that appeal to top talent among millennials.

“Design and creative talent is exceptional in Detroit and the opening of the Lear Innovation Center will help us gain a competitive advantage within the industry,” said Dave McNulty, vice president of human resources and global talent acquisition at Lear, regarding the recent $10 million investment in Detroit’s Capitol Park.

Creating a place and space dedicated solely  to creativity, the Innovation Center will  focus on next-generation automotive battery  charging, seating designs and technology  integration and non-automotive projects for  clients such as Shinola, Nike, Under Armour  and New Balance.

The Southfield-based global supplier  of automotive seating and electrical  systems’ latest investment is just one of  the many examples that auto suppliers  and service providers are taking to  retain a competitive edge ahead of others  seeking to poach talent.

“We love metro Detroit because it is a talent-rich area and is where grit and ability go  hand-in-hand, which results in a pool of local people who have the vision to see the  future and the guts to get us there,” said Paul Arnegard, vice president of creative services at Tweddle Group.

Tweddle’s new office, focused on  connected car software in downtown Detroit, is currently home to more than 30  employees. The 65-year-old automotive communications and publishing firm has plans to add up to 20 more employees in  the upcoming year.

“Tweddle Group isn’t going anywhere,” said Arnegard about the company’s commitment to Detroit and the region. “Our focus is on creating a culture where millennials want to be.”

Simply put, Michigan and the region is a proven testing ground for millennial talent  looking to develop and contribute to an  emerging field of connected mobility and  technology.

P3's open workspace allows creative minds to work together without the confines of cubicals.

P3’s open workspace allows creative minds to work together without the confines of cubicals.

P3’s new facility in Southfield serves as the  company’s automotive headquarters in the  Americas and includes open collaboration  spaces and a 10-car, full-vehicle workshop  with prototyping capabilities.

The center also houses multiple labs  to provide cutting-edge insights on  connectivity, autonomous vehicles, eMobility, cybersecurity and other in-vehicle telematics and mobility solutions.

“In a time when top talent is in high demand,  P3 realizes the need to set ourselves apart from all of the competition,” said LaToya Palmer, head of human resources and legal at P3.

Palmer expressed P3’s commitment to further advancing millennials’ skill sets and providing advancement opportunities to  increase employment value.

“We are dedicated to helping our employees build a meaningful career, which for many millennials is critical to job satisfaction, and  we pride ourselves on offering opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects for  big clients that help shape the future of  mobility,” she added.

Home to a number of world-class universities  and schools, the region offers auto and tech companies the opportunity to train and work closely with a robust educational  talent pipeline.

TI Automotive’s new corporate offices located in Auburn Hills are home to a collaborative floor-plan and one-of-a-kind architectural design.

TI Automotive has invested in a unique office space designs that appeal to top talent among millennials.

TI Automotive, located in Auburn Hills, has invested heavily in its offices to attract millennial talent.

“We engage university students as a first  step in attracting young professionals to  the company,” said Domenic Milicia, chief human resources and communications  officer at TI Automotive. “We do this in  two ways: by sponsoring various technical projects in local universities and offering our extensive co-op and internship programs to 20 to 30 students each year.”

The automotive fluid storage and delivery systems supplier is leading the way with others in the region in creating opportunities and environments for talent to thrive and forward-thinking culture and career succeed. The uptick in talent investment placement.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing by companies is a telling sign, pointing and communications coordinator with the Detroit to the region as a haven for technology, Regional Chamber.

Lear Innovation Center, Detroit’s Latest Automotive Design Incubator, Opens Downtown

 

By Daniel A. Washington 

After a little more than eight months of renovations, a former cigar factory in Capitol Park is now home to Detroit’s newest example of renewed spirit: Lear Corporation’s Innovation Center located at 119 State St. The space is expected to house nearly 100 employees and will serve as an incubator for automotive and nonautomotive projects in design and research.

“We are very excited to be opening a new innovation and design center in downtown Detroit,” said Lear Corp. President and CEO Matt Simoncini at the grand opening on Tuesday. “We plan to leverage the rapidly developing infrastructure in the central business district as well as the concentration of arts, science and technology assets in the Capitol Park area.”

With Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and College for Creative Studies President Rick Rogers in attendance, Simoncini announced a new partnership between the two schools and Lear to develop next-generation vehicle interiors and connected and alternative energy vehicles.

“We are honored and happy to be positioned to help give our students the chance at gaining real-world experience by working with an industry leader such as Lear Corp.,” said Rogers.

As of now, close to 25 employees work in the six-story building, each school will be granted the chance to provide 10 paid interns to learn alongside full-time Lear employees.

“Lear’s investment in this new center is another example of how Detroit is building on its history of innovation in automotive design,” said Duggan. “Thanks to their partners at Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies, Lear will be able to provide young Detroiters with practical hands-on experience to prepare them for careers in this cutting-edge field.”

View photos of the Lear Innovation Center here.

 

HopCat Sets Standard of Excellence in Food, Brew and Eco Footprint

By Daniel A. Washington

The name HopCat may be new to some, but is revered by many in the Detroit region because of each location’s uniqueness and uncompromising quality. Founder and owner Mark Sellers, would have it no other way as he prides himself on his business approach and dedication to localism as his food and pub chain continues its rapid growth.

The Detroit Regional Chamber caught up with Sellers to talk about his keys to creating a local business success in HopCat, a woodwork-filled brew pub with a massive beer list that offers creative brunch and comfort food.

Read the Q&A with Chamber member HopCat founder and register for the Inside the CEO Mind on Aug. 16 at the Midtown location.

Q. What all went into the ideation of “HopCat”?

A. I came up with the name HopCat based off of my love for jazz music and beer. In jazz if you are a cool cat you are hepcat, and beer has hops in it, so we called it HopCat.

I wanted a lot of craft beer and I didn’t want there to be any Bud, Miller or Coors, just craft beer from small breweries, so that is what we did. I didn’t want the employees to wear uniforms. People in most places make their employees wear an outfit, I just wanted them to be themselves. I wanted a lot of local art work and music related artwork because I love music. I wanted the food to be comfort food that goes well with beer.

Q. What do you think has helped HopCat become such a success?

A. We didn’t really try to do anything by the book, we just crack friesdid what I thought I would want if I were the customer, I just thought about myself as a customer. It turned out to really resonate with people, because it is different than other places. The artwork is different, the music is different, the craft beer thing was different, at that time especially. Then we had this dish called crack fries, which are seasoned French fries, that people seemed to really love almost immediately.

Q. What led you to opening a location in Detroit?

A. I started looking at opening a location in Detroit at least two years before we ended up opening it in 2014. We really wanted to be a part of the renaissance in Detroit. I could see that it was starting to go in the right direction and I wanted to be here early before the resurgence in interest.

We found the location on the corner of Woodward and Canfield, after looking at maybe 30 locations. I bought the building from the Michigan Land Bank and then we spent about $4 million to rehab it.

Q. Rumor has it that employees helped create a recycling program, that has been implemented at each location. Is it true?

A. When I started HopCat we weren’t recycling at first and a lot of the employees came to me and said, we couldSellersCropped be recycling this stuff. I just said to myself, yeah, I really want to develop a program to minimize waste. So, early on with the help of employees, we came up with this program where we would compost and recycle anything that we could and then whatever is left over we would dispose of in the landfill.

We had a couple people on staff who volunteered to help develop that program and led the training materials.

Over the years the training and program has gotten more and more sophisticated, so we have gotten better and better at it – at this point, about 35 percent goes to compost, 55 percent goes to recycling and 10 percent goes to the landfill.

Q. What can we expect next from the HopCat brand?

A. The next location we are opening is in Louisville, Kentucky on July 30. That is actually going to be our biggest location, it is 14,000-square-feet. Detroit is 12,000-square-feet by comparison, so it is even bigger than the Detroit location, so we are really excited about that.

Then Chicago is opening on Sept. 3 on Clark Street, which is a high volume, high traffic and is a north to south artery through the city.

Q. What is next for you as you have made a second career out of the food and brew industry?

A. I am going to keep doing this until it is no longer fun. And what is fun for me is designing each location to look different, that is what I really get excited about. Also, just being creative and coming up with new menu items which I am involved in and managing the bars’ music lists, which is constantly changing. As long as I can do that stuff and have other people run the bars for me, I am going to keep doing this.

Changes on the Horizon

Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. speaks on current state of affairs and potential changes ahead in political world 

By Daniel A. Washington 

Harold Ford Jr_headshotAfter spending 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democratic Party member, Harold Ford Jr. has become a regular contributor on MSNBC and CNBC discussing policy and politics.

No stranger to Michigan’s Center Stage, Ford spoke with the Detroiter before this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, where he will again be appearing — this time on the political climate of the nation ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

What is the most relevant issue facing American politics today that didn’t exist 25 years ago?

I think that the one thing that threatens the fabric of the country more than anything today is the uneven distribution of wealth. I see Democratic candidates always talk about it, but it’s truly a serious issue. I’m really not sure how we sustain a society that has such a disparity. I think we’re not doing enough in the short term or immediate term. We’re not doing enough in the schools. Investments need to be made, and they aren’t happening fast enough.

What does Donald Trump’s success mean for the two-party system?

His success is going to change it; he is not a typical Republican or conservative. Early in his campaign he took on the feelings and sentiments of Fox News and super PACs. I think that many people support him because he’s the voice of many who think that  things are wrong with what is going on in American politics.

Regardless of (whether) he is worth $5 million or $10 million, he’s worth more than the average American family, so people are looking to him as someone who can get things done. Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is really something many Americans can relate to, and I can’t blame them. I think Trump’s success should put to bed naysayers of the notion that the two-party system is weak.

How must American politics progress to engage the millennial generation as they age?

I differ with the proposition. I think that millennials are like any other group of people. You must closely look at them and see how to engage. I think that if you look at the last three cycles — led by Obama and others — millennials were really active. President Obama’s presidential bids showed that he was new and fresh and that people really wanted something different. He wrapped his campaign with technology in regard to raising money and getting his message to the masses.

Even though I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter, there’s a tremendous amount of millennial energy around the Bernie Sanders campaign. I think like with any group, you have to speak to what they care most about. Oftentimes, people discredit millennials’ position on issues as being too extreme and unrealistic, but I think we have to aim extremely high and make our leaders continue to think bolder and bigger to deliver results.

What do you think of the media’s role in the presidential election thus far?

The press focuses so much time on each candidate that sometimes it makes the race feel like forever. We’re just getting into voting, but so much has been covered that it makes the voter disinterested and fall in and out of the race. I hope as we get closer (to the election) the real issues take main stage, whether that is taxes or education.

What will be the legacy of President Obama years from now compared to when he departs office?

I think that the biggest thing in regards to his legacy is what the Affordable Care Act will look like in four or five years. I think the momentum won’t subside, but instead increase as we get smarter and make the cost of care cheaper and more affordable. In recent days, we’ve seen big health providers withdraw from certain parts of the Act. I think the president will be looked upon favorably in terms of health care because he was aggressive in pushing it and helping stabilize coverage for the nation. In four or five years, we’ll see how the deal with the  Iranians really panned out, as well. Those two things really stand out to me in terms of his legacy.

What is your take on the federal government’s role (e.g., EPA and congressional hearings) and response in the Flint water crisis?

What happened in Flint is an inexcusable abomination. I think the bulk of responsibility rests with state officials and leaders. I think that if the state reached out to the EPA and others and didn’t get responses, then they too should be held responsible. I think that if you were in a community with higher income and more affluent jobs, we would have found and seen a different response to such a tragedy. I think that class is a large reason as to why it happened. I think, ultimately, the accountability and responsibility rest with the state officials first and foremost.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Spotlighting Race in America

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien fights for race conversation at media table 

By Daniel A. Washington 

Chances are you’ve heard the name Soledad O’Brien — maybe on television, providing commentary or narrating documentaries on race relations in the United States.

Arguably most known for her work in producing the multi-part documentary series “Black in America,” O’Brien has earned numerous awards for shedding light on often overlooked injustices endured by mi-norities in America. A former anchor for CNN, and current CEO of Starfish Media Group, she spoke with the Detroiter prior to the Mackinac Policy Conference, where she helped lead a discussion on national politics and the importance of race, economics and inclusion.

What is one of the most relevant issues facing American politics today?

How do you make sure that people feel represented? I see it all the time while interviewing people. This election is a real wake-up call and a lot of people are unhappy with the current state of affairs with the political system.

You have done a lot to shine a light on race relations in “Black in America.” What do you think the state of race relations are today in this country?

I think it is a very interesting time we live in. I think people think it’s a horrible time, but I’m not one of them. I think this time presents a number of highs and lows of living people trying to grapple with the issue and conversation of race in America. I think the idea that we would all get together and fix it is a little naive. I believe we are at a time where people are pushing back in a way. These are historic narratives that people are rallying and fighting against. I really thought that this presidential race was going to give way to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, but we have instead seen an uprising in staunch white America push back. I don’t think we’re at the worst ever (time for race relations), but instead are experiencing the ebb and flow just like during other times in our history.

What are some of the key takeaways people need to understand about race in America?

I think the biggest takeaway is people don’t understand the history of how and what this country was built on. I think it makes people very uncomfortable to discuss the realities of race and class. I was talking to someone on Twitter and had to explain that indeed slavery has an effect on today’s issues and, more importantly, a race of people gravely affected. I think when you don’t understand your history you get angry, and being really misinformed causes racial tension and issues that only deepen the resentment. Demographics have shifted in this country. I think people really need to go back and understand the roots of our history, especially in regard to slavery. If you don’t do that, then you won’t understand why people are angry and feeling as if their life or the lives of those most affected has yet to be restored.

With the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots approaching, what do you think Detroit needs to focus on moving forward in terms of race?

I am a big believer that when faced with a challenge, you deal with it upfront. In Detroit, there’s a lot of opportunity and you can’t stay stuck in the past. You have to respect it and look forward to telling a new
narrative. Detroit needs to look to its future and see what it can do to make tomorrow better.

What is your take on the federal government’s role (EPA, congressional hearings) and response in the Flint water crisis?

The federal government’s role is to protect the people and, in this case, their water. There is no doubt that there has been and is an injustice that has occurred against the people of Flint. No apology or discussion can undo what has been done. This issue has opened the door and shed light on others across America in regard to the quality of water and its consumption. Going back to Flint, the biggest tragedy is the long list of officials that didn’t care, which in turn caused so many lives to suffer.

What is one issue that didn’t necessarily exist 25 years ago?

I would say eight to nine years ago when I look back, we were not allowed to acknowledge, let alone say, white supremacy on air. I recall having a conversation with my boss at the time about the idea that black people are treated differently by police. He would not hear any of it. He said all parents both black and white taught their children the same things in regard to respect and fear of police officers. This notion that different interactions existed was unheard of.

We now do understand that when it comes to policing there are completely different reactions for the white and black civilian. That is a big shift. We now care and are aware that blacks have been forced to live differently and approach police interaction different. I‘ve seen huge strides in this understanding, but there’s still a lot of work to be done considering the recent tragedies of unarmed black men losing their lives to police brutality.

What is your take on the presidential primary race so far?

It is very interesting from a reporter’s perspective. From a voter’s perspective, it’s a hot mess. I think there are a lot of voters on the GOP side who feel their leaders are really ignoring them. On the Democratic side, you look at the most recent debate and see some glaring problems. I think it’s very challenging for voters thus far; you get the sense that it isn’t really about the issues and more about the name-calling and accusations that dominate the headlines and conversation.

What do you think of the media’s role in the presidential election thus far?

I think the media is a combination of institutions, not just one entity. Some have done a great job reporting the facts, and others have been really disappointing and not doing what they should as journalists. Some have decided to encourage and even push the name-calling and madness to drive ratings. I think some media outlets are doing a great job and upholding the responsibility of journalism.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.