Detroit Developers: Thoughtful Inclusion Key to City’s Ongoing Transformation

Watch the full panel discussion here. 

In the midst of countless projects underway, developers must continue to make intentional decisions to include all Detroiters in the city’s revitalization.

As part of the “Inclusive Development: Impacts of a Prosperous Downtown” panel, leading developers provided insight on projects throughout downtown, Midtown and the neighborhoods, while discussing ways to bring opportunities to residents.

“We are going to the places where people who do not appear to be participating in the recovery and need the opportunity are,” explained Peter Cummings, co-founder of The Platform. “Sustaining the momentum depends on the ability of broader sectors of the population to participate. Detroit is not blighted, it’s not distressed, it’s just grossly underserved.”

Inclusive Development panel discussion at 2017 Detroit Policy ConferenceBasco of Michigan President Roger Basmajian explained that it is also important that when buying buildings, a high priority is made to ensure tenants are not being displaced.

Taking a similar approach to Basmajian, Develop Detroit’s Sonya Mays discussed how important it is for developers and businesses to interact with existing communities.

“We want to go out and engage the people that will be most affected by the developments, meaning we try to develop from the bottom up, not the top down,” she said. “It is very labor intensive, but our perspective is that’s one of the best ways to make sure the work being done is for and includes the people affected, not being done to them.”

“At Develop Detroit we use a few different lenses to talk about inclusion, we talk about income inclusion, we talk about racial inclusion … and we talk about age inclusion and our philosophy is that you do have to be intentional if you actually care about making a change,” Mays added.

The panel also touched on barriers developers face in Detroit including: access to capital, brownfield development, millage taxes and infrastructure issues. All of the panelists said the city government has been a strong advocate for development.

This panel was moderated by Ignition Media Group CEO and Detroit Regional Chamber Board Chair Dennis Archer Jr.

Read more from the 2017 Detroit Policy Conference:

Christopher Ilitch: Teamwork, Collaboration Will Guide Detroit’s Bright Future

Chamber PAC Endorsements Victorious in National, State Election

Last week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) continued its record of successfully endorsing strong, pro-business candidates at the local, state and federal level. With the Chamber PAC’s support, more than 92 percent of endorsed candidates won their respective races in the Nov. 8 election, including:

  • Nine candidates for U.S. Congress, including the highly contested District 8 race, where Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) won re-election.
  • 51 of 53 candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives, which includes 25 Democrats and 26 Republicans. Of note, highly contested candidate races such as Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.) in the 39th District and Diana Farrington (R-Utica) in the 30th District won their respective election bid.
  • Congresswoman Candice Miller was elected Macomb County Public Works Commissioner.
  • Janeé Ayers was re-elected to the Detroit City Council.
  • Iris Taylor, Misha Stallworth and Sonya Mays were elected to the Detroit School Board.

“The 2016 election furthers the Chamber’s bipartisan efforts to elect public officials who will positively contribute to the success of Southeast Michigan businesses,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber. “All officials elected in this cycle will play a crucial role in deciding the future for the Southeast Michigan economy and will support policies that help Detroit continue to grow.”

Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Millage Proposal

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s millage proposal to connect Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties with safe, reliable infrastructure did not pass. The Chamber was a chief proponent of the proposal’s passage. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement:

“To say we’re disappointed is an understatement. However, we respect the will of the voters and will continue to seek solutions to connect our region and provide mobility to those without access to personal vehicles.”

Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinances

Detroit voters decided how to best regulate and control community development projects with a “no” vote on Proposal A and a “yes” vote on Proposal B. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement on the passing of Proposal B regarding the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) ordinances:

“We thought Proposal B was better and we’re glad the citizens of Detroit agreed. Proposal B strikes a balance between economic realities and the needs of our citizens.”

For more information on the Chamber’s government relations activity, contact Jason Puscas at 248.709.4866 or