REVOLVE Detroit team earns Crain’s “Intrapreneur” Award

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Crain’s Detroit Business has named DEGC’s REVOLVE Detroit as part of its annual Salute to Entrepreneurs issue. REVOLVE program manager Michael Forsyth and his associate, Lori Allan were individually honored in the “Intrapreneur” category for their work inside DEGC creating innovative ways to connect retail store owners, startups, property owners, community organizations and artists. DEGC launched REVOLVE Detroit in the fall of 2012. Since then, Forsyth and Allan have worked under the REVOLVE banner to help revitalize West Village, the Livernois corridor, and as described in another article in this Growth Detroit Report, Grandmont Rosedale.

Crain’s annually recognizes entrepreneurs who are noteworthy for their innovation, problem solving ability or sheer relentlessness. Forsyth told Crain’s, “Being an intrapreneur is about understanding the mission of your organization and staying true to that, but taking a different path to get there.” In the case of REVOLVE, that meant using Facebook, and other social media tools to promote participation, hosting a program-specific website, and recruiting Lori Allan to help write, design and post web and print materials to promote the program. Allan started at DEGC as an intern while studying at University of Detroit Mercy, and she demonstrated such a wide variety of skills that she was hired as a communications and marketing consultant for REVOLVE.

Forsyth and Allan will be recognized along with the entrepreneurs that Crain’s is saluting at a lunch program July 24 at The Henry in Dearborn.

Tiffini Smith

Director of Corporate Communications

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, D2D Program Increases $200 million in Detroit-based Spend by Key Purchasers

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What does $200 million buy? Plenty. And that’s why it is significant that in an annual survey by DEGC’s D2D Business program, a key set of purchasing organizations reported they purchased $200 million more this year than last from other Detroit-based companies. The increase represents a 31 percent increase, demonstrating D2D’s success in connecting buyers and suppliers in the city of Detroit.

The scale of the increase shows how deeply committed major Detroit purchasers are to look for quality suppliers here in Detroit. It also demonstrates that Detroit-based suppliers have a lot to offer — not just to other Detroit companies, but customers everywhere.

David O. Egner, Executive Director of the New Economy Initiative said, “One of the best tools we have for growing the economy is the purchasing power we have right here in Detroit. We’re thrilled to support D2D as they not only help employ that purchasing power, but ready the small businesses community to better take advantage of it.”

The D2D program provides services and opportunities to grow the relationships among Detroit-based businesses, including a business-to-business database, supplier workshops and other programs. When buyers and suppliers located in Detroit work together it’s a win for everyone including the city itself. Here are a few examples:

Buyer & Supplier: Detroit Lions/Ford Field & Motor City Propane

Bob Gardner, senior director of facility management, Ford Field said, “Motor City Propane is a company that is ‘homegrown’ in the city of Detroit and they always come through for us. We can always depend on them, particularly when we have large concerts and events. Our philosophy is to give back to the city of Detroit and use resources that are community/city-based. Motor City Propane inquired what we were doing with the community, and we referred them to D2D so that they can use Detroit resources and be a resource to other businesses in the city as well.”

Otis Starghill, CEO and president, Motor City Propane said, “We have been servicing Ford Field since they built the facility. We were involved with their construction phase, supplying their temporary heat and cement drying. Currently we supply gas for their lifting trucks and their vehicles that run on propane for their concerts and shows. We’ve had a great ongoing relationship and we’re thankful that they referred us to the D2D program. D2D has really come to the table with a strategy to help grow small businesses in Detroit.”

Buyer & Supplier: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan & Hanna-Neumann/Smith

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) has had a relationship with the architectural firm Neumann/Smith Architecture for a number of years. In 2013, Neumann/Smith Architecture entered into a partnership with Hannah & Associates Inc., an architectural firm that is a minority and female-owned business operated by Beverly Hannah Jones, AIA. The new partnership is called Hannah-Neumann/Smith, and has offices in downtown Detroit.

BCBSM hired Hannah-Neumann/Smith to perform architectural services on a building located on its downtown Detroit campus. “Hiring Hannah-Neumann/Smith supports our core belief in supporting minority and female-owned businesses,” said Tricia Keith, BCBSM senior vice president, corporate secretary and services. “Hannah-Neumann/Smith has become a valued business partner and resource in developing our space requirements with a sense of urgency as well as innovation.”

Brian Watkins

Business Development Manager

Jobs and the Downtown Events Center District

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One of the primary missions of DEGC is the creation of jobs for Detroit residents, so it naturally is an important consideration in the development of a transformational events center district in Downtown Detroit.

In the concession management agreement (CMA) Detroit Economic Growth Corporation negotiated on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority, Olympia Development agreed to hire Detroit residents as 51% of its construction workforce. That translates to more than 4,000 Detroit jobs as the event center is being built. Olympia also agreed to significant efforts to hire locally to operate the center. For instance, it will “maximize opportunities” to hire Detroit residents and Detroit-based businesses as suppliers. Olympia pledged to provide development and training opportunities and use local Detroit-based workforce training programs for referrals or targeted hiring. And finally, Olympia agreed to review its efforts in these areas with the DDA.

By a majority vote of elected officials, the Detroit City Council decided that those and other community benefit commitments that Olympia Development did make were sufficient, and that the City had adequate measures in place to enforce them. In a good collaboration all parties make concessions to get the deal done, and now it is done.

Furthermore, the jobs created by the event center are important, but are only a portion of the benefits of the total transformation that the Council has approved. As the $200 million of private development proceeds around the center, it will bring in more construction, businesses, and residents in a thriving community that will generate many more opportunities for Detroiters as well. That’s a good trade for $2.9 million in land that is the only asset the City of Detroit had to commit to this deal.

Our negotiations delivered the essentials for a project that will transform Downtown, generate jobs and tax revenues that will benefit the entire city, and make Detroit a must-see destination for fans of sports and entertainment. And we did it by meeting every requirement of the law and the highest ethical standards.

George W. Jackson, Jr.
President and CEO

Jackson to leave DEGC, form private consulting firm

Jackson departing DEGC

George Jackson announced last week that he’ll be leaving DEGC at the end of March to
form his own Detroit-based private consulting and development firm. Needless to say, all
of us here at DEGC are very disappointed about losing such a dynamic leader and a
caring CEO, but we know how passionate he is about the city and look forward to
working with him “from the other side of table,” as he puts it.

George has been the president and CEO of DEGC since February 2002. Prior to that, he
worked for 27 years at DTE Energy, rising to the position of Director of Customer
Marketing.

During the announcement of his resignation, George said, “I had a tremendous run at
DEGC working with great companies here and from around the world, and solid partners
in the private and foundation communities. I look forward to working with great partners
as we continue to transform Detroit into a leader of innovative urban redevelopment.”

Among the accomplishments of DEGC under his leadership, George is most proud of the removal of the cement silos along the Detroit River and the transformation of the riverfront from industrial to mixed use. Now everyone enjoys recreational access to the river.

Some of the many other successes DEGC achieved during George’s tenure include:

• The restoration and reopening of the Book Cadillac as the Westin Book Cadillac
Hotel.
• Innovative programs and incentives that relocated Quicken Loans to Detroit,
consolidated operations of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan here and led to the
re-concentration of technology and creative companies in Downtown and
Midtown, bringing in well over 10,000 new employees.
• The opening of Whole Foods Market – the first national grocery chain to open in
Detroit in decades.
• The largest retail development in more than 40 years, anchored by a Meijer
superstore.
• Steering the development and beginning implementation of Detroit Future City, a
comprehensive 50-year framework to help guide decision makers as they
revitalize the city with innovative approaches.

Everything was accomplished with an impeccable record of fiscal and ethical
responsibility, maintaining balanced budgets and clean auditing reports for DEGC and all
the public authorities it administers.

As the head of DEGC, George encouraged partnership and teamwork amongst the staff.
No matter your position within the organization, he was always willing to listen to
suggestions for improvements, ideas for new programs or just chat with his employees.
Not many employees can brag that they had a thirty-minute conversation with their CEO
about a golf game, their new house or the grand kids. George’s approachability, sense of
humor and demeanor made him more than just our boss; he is a friend.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it has truly been an honor and a privilege to work for
George over the last 12 years. All of us at DEGC wish him great success in his new
endeavor.

Tiffini Smith
Director, Corporate Communications

Former Councilman Ken Cockrel will lead Detroit Future City Implementation Office

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Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.

Ken Cockrel has stepped out of his role as Detroit City Council member and into a new role as executive director of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office. Detroit Future City is an initiative to implement creative ideas to transform the city in a coordinated way through a well-researched strategic framework. Launched in early 2013, DFC has 36 pilot projects underway to address neighborhood stabilization, create new “green” infrastructure from underutilized land, and remove blighted structures by “deconstruction” rather than demolition.

“Detroit is at a pivotal moment in its history and the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework presents us with an exciting opportunity to rethink, reshape and rebuild our city,” said Cockrel. “I am honored to be able to continue serving the residents and neighborhoods of Detroit as we work with our partners to improve the quality of life in Detroit by carrying-out the recommendations of the Strategic Framework.”

With his experience as Council President and Mayor, Cockrel is uniquely qualified to work with all the stakeholders and collaborators that are using Detroit Future City to inform their efforts to revitalize Detroit.

As Cockrel takes on his new responsibilities leading the Implementation Office, Dan Kinkead will serve as Director of Projects; Heidi Alcock will serve as Director of Operations; and Carrie Lewand-Monroe will serve as Director of Policy. The Office has several dozen potential projects in planning stages aside from those already in progress. It also seated a steering committee of community, business, government, non-profit and foundation stakeholders to guide its work. Detroit Economic Growth Association remains the fiduciary for the Office, administering foundation support for its work.

For more information about the initiative, visit DetroitFutureCity.com.

Malik Goodwin
Vice President, Project Management