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

Construction on Livernois “Avenue of Fashion” continues

Livernois Avenue of Fashion

DEGC is making continual efforts in the revitalization of Livernois Avenue to get more and more businesses into the area and make this historic “Avenue of Fashion” a thriving community once again. For example, through its REVOLVE program DEGC partners with business owners to activate empty storefronts and encourage pop-up and permanent retail to enter the community.

The latest in the series of plans for Livernois involves an approved initial phase of construction. This first phase includes 2.8 miles of streetscape improvements on Livernois Avenue between the Lodge Freeway and 8 Mile Rd., consisting of boulevard landscaping, irrigation and pedestrian amenities. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2014 and finish by summer 2014. The City of Detroit Department of Public Works will oversee the construction. The Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) will oversee the project design implementation.

This initial phase of construction will enhance the image and elevate the brand of the area as a special place, creating a unique experience for anyone who gets off of the Lodge or turns off of 8 Mile. This end-result of the construction will elevate the role of arts in the community and will aim to bring new businesses to the area.

The construction is one project done within the context of a much larger series of investments taking place with many partners. There is approximately $5 million in redevelopment in the pipeline for the upcoming few years,

“There are lots of exciting developments to come including plans for improved lighting along the avenue and several great real-estate projects like the opening of The Hunters Supper Club building and Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles ” said Michael Forsyth, DEGC business development manager.

Funding for this initial construction will come from grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the City of Detroit Planning and Developing Department, in addition to grants from the University of Detroit Mercy and the Kresge Foundation. Be on the lookout for changes coming this spring and summer.

David Tobar – Project Manager

Business Spotlight: Craft Work – Hubert Yaro, Co-Owner

Craft Work
Craft Work is an American restaurant in the heart of historic West Village in Detroit. The restaurant prides itself in taking classic American dishes and putting a twist in the recipes. Co-owner Hubert Yaro has received a lot of support in the community since opening in December 2013. Currently, Craft Work is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight and serves food from 5 through 11 p.m.

What makes Craft Work unique to your other restaurants?

The location! I’ve opened restaurants in Birmingham (Commonwealth Cafe) and Royal Oak (Ronin Sushi), but I really wanted to open a restaurant in my neighborhood. Craft Work is very personal to me because I live right around the corner. I love living and working in Detroit.

The space is great and the charm of the building really drew me in. In fact, the building is 90 years old so inevitably there was a lot of work involved in getting the restaurant up and running, but it was worth it. The history in this space is a great asset as well, because a lot of our customers have fond memories of this place throughout the years. This is very much a Detroit restaurant. That very special feel when you walk in the door – paired with our quality service – makes it a win-win.

What is your menu all about?


The menu is classic American. We are committed to sourcing quality meats, dairy and bread. The technique our executive chef Matt Dalton uses for our menu is a unique blend of multiple cultures. Our dishes are very balanced, and customers will walk out of the restaurant feeling full and satisfied.

What is it like working in Detroit, and how does the Detroit location contribute to the business’ overall success?


The community here is so strong and tight knit. There is a lot of pride and spirit in the neighborhood. I’m really inspired by it. People take care of their properties, homes and businesses, and I’ve received so much support with Craft Work. I think the restaurant being in Detroit has everything to do with how positively it’s been received.

Anything new and exciting coming up for Craft Work?


I really look forward to continually making a positive impact on the community and getting more involved. We’re also very excited to begin serving brunch in March on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE Detroit Program Manager

Co-working spaces abound in Detroit for entrepreneurs and others

Detroit Department of Alternatives
Detroit Department of Alternatives

Entrepreneurs, artists, techies and others looking for workspace in Detroit now have a one-stop resource to help them search for the perfect place for their endeavor, DEGC’s Detroit Co-Working Space Finder.

We knew many spaces were opening up for entrepreneurs and others here in the city, so we did the research through the web and word-of-mouth and created this directory. Now people looking for space can use the Detroit Co-Working Space Finder to pick the space that best fits their specific business needs.

There are many different workspace options, from shared table space to a desk to a full office and shared conference rooms. Many include wireless, tech support, office supplies and even coffee and snacks.

Several of the co-working sites are linked to specific causes or industries. For example, Department of Alternatives on Washington Boulevard is dedicated to entrepreneurs working full time on alternative, market proven solutions to civic and social issues that affect our community. NextEnergy Center on Burroughs Street serves as a living laboratory for advanced energy technology development and demonstrations. Ponyride on Vermont leases studio space to artists and entrepreneurs who engage the citizens of Detroit in their creative practices.

These co-working spaces offer more than just a place to work, they provide the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a community of people with the same interests.

“OCD is a hackerspace, a place we go to make, experiment, learn and share with an eclectic group of interesting, creative, friendly people,” is how OmnicorpDetroit on East Division describes itself.

Pricing options vary widely. Many spaces offer daily, weekly and monthly rates or a punch card system for regular visits. Some offer special rates for non-profits. Other spaces require people to complete an application for membership.

The Detroit Co-Working Space FInder is available on the DEGC website at www.degc.org  as well as all the spaces listed, and the 54 organizations featured in BizGrid http://www.detroitbizgrid.com/

If a space is not listed, let us know and we’ll add it, because everyone needs to know Detroit is open for businesses of all sizes.

Catherine Frazier
Business Development 

Contractor Spotlight: Mike Farrow – Farrow Group, Inc.

Michael Farrow
Michael Farrow
Photo credit: Farrow Group

Inspired by his father, Michael Farrow founded Farrow Group, Inc. in 1998. As a native Detroiter, he prides himself on being hands-on with every aspect of the company because he loves his city and continues work to make it the dynamic place it once was.

Farrow Group is one of the largest demolition contractors based in Detroit. It maintains a large fleet of specialized machinery ideally suited for today’s complex demolition projects. Farrow’s skilled team is capable of performing very difficult projects efficiently, and can respond to emergencies on short notice.

Tell me about some of your current projects you’re working on?

Very recently we were called by the City of Detroit to do an emergency cleanup and demolition of a burned commercial building. It contained hazardous medical waste allegedly dumped illegally by a local businessman trying to save money at the expense of the environment and surrounding community. We made an initial cleanup at no cost to the City by selling the scrap material from the project. That’s a strong benefit of our “green” expertise and long experience in the demolition industry. We took the same approach as part of the team that demolished the former Tiger Stadium. We are very strong in recycling and in responding to emergency needs.

What do you find most exciting about the changing face of Detroit?

I love Detroit and I am excited about the changes that are taking place. The City of Detroit economy has been hit the hard in the past couple of years, but we know we can have revitalized neighborhood housing, retail centers, schools, and manufacturing plants.  I am excited to have a role to play demolishing all abandoned structures that offer a safe haven for gang members, drug dealers and other criminals. That’s particularly important for members of the community who are constantly reminded of the eyesores and hazardous cautions that plague their city.

By demolishing these structures it leaves the city with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent affordable housing and attract new businesses. In addition, we are creating a safe and welcoming environment for students, residents and visitors alike. I know this cannot all happen overnight, but it can happen.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?

In the long term, Farrow Group has the potential to greater serve the City of Detroit by improving the quality of living for countless individuals, particularly seniors and youth by removing blight and implementing programs and awareness that would create opportunities for them to excel in live.

We are also committed to protecting the public health and environment by reducing the amount of solid waste that goes to the landfills.  That is why we are implementing a program to donate salvageable materials such as windows, doors, hardwood floors, cabinets, and HVAC units to nonprofit organizations. It will keep those items out of landfills.

What is your company culture?

Farrow Group has been blessed with a great group of skilled and dedicated team members who believe in the company’s vision and mission of giving back to the communities in which they live, work, and play.  We take serious the responsibility that comes with being a contractor and leader in the communities we serve.  In addition, we pride ourselves on hiring and training individuals that live in these communities.

That is why the Farrow Group business image and advertisement display the American flag and eagle. The flag represents the spirit and pride we have for country and fellow man and the eagle represents our endless efforts to soar high to achieve our goal of excellence in this industry.

What’s coming up for Farrow Group?

Growth. We are excited about what is happening in our city, state and surrounding communities, yet it is our goal to expand our operations throughout the United States.

Mike Farrow, Farrow Group Inc.

President and CEO