2020 Detroit Policy Conference: Defining a Decade

Last week, the Chamber’s ninth annual Detroit Policy Conference welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees to MotorCity Casino Hotel for a timely discussion on the next decade of development and progress for the Detroit region. Local leaders including Mayor Mike Duggan, Ford Motor Company’s Mary Culler, and Bedrock Detroit’s Matt Cullen discussed projects announced and underway that will transform the city over the next decade. Hill Harper brought his star power to the stage to share why he chose to get involved in Detroit and encouraged more people from around the country to as well.

Read highlights from the most influential sessions below:

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan discussed General Motors Co.’s recent Detroit-Hamtramck plant announcement, the evolution of Detroit’s neighborhoods, and the importance of ensuring an accurate count in Detroit for the 2020 census during his conversation with Dennis W. Archer Jr.

“You need trust across the city,” said Duggan.

Ford Motor Company’s Detroit Development Director Mary Culler is helping rewrite the future of Corktown Detroit with the Michigan Central Station redevelopment and creation of a new innovative mobility ecosystem. Culler spoke on Ford’s commitment to creating a vibrant community where people come to create, test, and experience new transportation solutions that advance human progress.

“I’m here to invite you to join us in taking on the transportation challenges of the future,” she said.

Bedrock Detroit CEO Matt Cullen gave a sneak preview to his company’s new developments on the horizon like the Hudson’s site, which he noted will be off the ground this year, in his conversation with Chamber CEO Sandy K. Baruah. Cullen discussed the progress made in the decade past thanks to Bedrock Detroit and what the city can look forward to in the years to come.

“If the neighborhoods don’t do well, the city isn’t going to do well,” said Cullen.

In his keynote speech, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II discussed how Michigan can create an environment prime for innovation and ideas. Gilchrist’s vision for Michigan starts with investing in new ideas, with an emphasis on inclusive entrepreneurship and innovation reaching beyond technology.

“Entrepreneurs are people who turn barriers into springboards,” said Gilchrist.
Actor, author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Hill Harper did not only bring his energy and star power to the Conference stage, but also shared insight from a career rooted service to communities in need. Harper gave a keynote speech and spoke with Fox 2’s Huel Perkins on how he first got involved in Detroit, and why more people from around the country should too.

“The people are Detroit’s greatest asset. We have to push each other to dream as big as we can about this city,” said Harper.

Read more highlights from #DPC20, view photos, and watch session videos.

Hill Harper: Invest in the People of Detroit

Hill Harper did not only bring his star power to the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference stage, but also shared insight from a career rooted in philanthropy and service to communities in need. Harper gave a keynote speech and spoke with Fox 2’s Huel Perkins on how he first got involved in Detroit, and why more people from around the country should too.

As an actor known for his starring role in the CBS hit drama “CSI: NY”, a New York Times best-selling author, and successful entrepreneur, Harper has always looked for places where he can do good. After meeting people from Detroit while attending Harvard Law School, Harper began to develop an affinity for the city.

“Harvard Law School was my first connected tissue to this city,” said Harper. “Some of the best people in the world are here, and that really resonated with me.”

Harper’s love for Detroit is apparent in the multiple large investments in the city, including the purchase and renovation of the Charles T. Fischer mansion in the Boston Edison district, which he plans to convert into an art museum and art incubation space, Harper explained. Harper also owns the downtown Detroit Roasting Plant shop which he bought in 2017.

“It’s a 360 impact in a positive way from the farm to the filter,” commented Harper. “I thought coffee was a great vehicle for social change.”

Harper’s work stems from his belief that the people of Detroit deserve to be invested in. In his time in Detroit, Harper has helped city residents restore credit to pursue homeownership and created a youth empowerment program in partnership with Wayne State University and local businesses.

“The people are Detroit’s greatest asset,” said Harper. “We have to push each other to dream as big as we can about this city.”