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‘Detroit Rising’: Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference focused on regional civility

Feb. 27, 2018

Crain’s Detroit Business

Chad Livengood

The Detroit Regional Chamber hopes to build on the collaboration that went into Detroit’s community project examining origins of the 1967 riots and the city’s unsuccessful bid for Amazon’s second headquarters at a policy conference Thursday centered around making a business case for civility.

The chamber’s seventh annual Detroit Policy Conference at MotorCity Casino Hotel will focus on creating a culture of civility in a region with a long history of division.

Conference organizers believe the Detroit region’s biggest challenges can be solved with a little more civility among the fractured borderlines of wealth, culture and politics, said Devon O’Reilly, manager of entrepreneurship and Detroit engagement for the chamber.

“The biggest thing we can do is show how civility can be injected into any conversation,” O’Reilly said in an interview for the Crain’s “Detroit Rising” podcast. “Whether it be transit, or whether it be placemaking or putting together a multi-city bid for a large corporation, there’s a place for civility in any conversation.”

More than 700 business, civic and government leaders are expected to attend Thursday’s daylong conference.

Speakers focusing on why civility matters will include Henry Ford Health System CEO Wright Lassiter III; Detroit RiverFront Conservancy CEO Mark Wallace; Police Chief James Craig; and Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Detroit Historical Society CEO Bob Bury will be part of a panel discussion about how the museum’s Detroit ’67 project came together for last year’s 50th anniversary of Detroit’s July 1967 rebellion.

Bury, who is leaving the historical society at the end of June, will be joined on that panel with Hudson-Webber Foundation CEO Melanca Clark and Tricia Keith, executive vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

There also will be a panel discussion about the lessons learned from the failed Amazon bid among officials from Quicken Loans Inc., the city of Detroit, Wayne County and the Detroit Regional Chamber, which were involved the frenetic assembly of a proposallast fall.

Jeanette Pierce, executive director of the Detroit Experience Factory, was on the planning committee for this year’s Detroit Policy Conference. Her organization takes Detroiters and visitors on tours of the city to expose them to different parts of Detroit.

“This is all about breaking down those barriers that our region has built up,” said Pierce, who grew up on Detroit’s east side. “Other regions have (them), but sometimes they’re a little more extreme here — our segregation, our separation, and if we can move forward as a region, it’s going to be by working together and being collaborative.”

O’Reilly and Pierce talked about the policy conference’s focus on civility in a podcast interview recorded at Sister Pie bakery in Detroit’s West Village.


View the original post from Crain’s Detroit Business on their website.