Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Downtown’s Future the Focus in Annual Policy Conference

Downtown’s Future the Focus in Annual Policy Conference

January 19, 2023

Michigan Chronicle
Jan. 18, 2023
Andre Ash

The Detroit Regional Chamber brought out movers and shakers for this year’s annual Detroit Policy Conference. It’s theme was center on “the future of our downtown”.

“If you came down to Detroit 12 or 13 years ago on a Saturday morning, there was nobody”, said Detroit Mayor Duggan.

Duggan spoke to the contrast of downtown’s occupancy and vibrancy compared to a time 15 years ago which look like a ghost town. Now the city’s central core is making its way back from the pandemic which sent many workers out the office and into remote work.

The policy conference attracting national urbanist Richard Florida as he spoke to Detroit’s resilience compared to other big cities in attracting and retaining talent and industries.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist spoke to the state’s role in investment and creating partnerships centered on downtown’s revival. “It’s important that every part of our city can advance together,” Lt. Gov. Gilchrest said. “You can’t think of an amazing city or an amazing city experience without having an amazing downtown experience. That experience must then be able to create value for others who live in other parts of the city.”

As commercial and residential development moves forward downtown, who is it for? That’s the question one conference attendee had asked. “The future of our downtown, when I browse the room I’m wondering who is our?,” said Theo Pride, community organizer, Detroit People’s Platform. “When I drive down Seven Mile, Livernois, when I visit my family in Brightmore – I see Black folk, I see a majority working class Black city”

Being inclusive and intentional on Detroiters being at the table and a part of downtown’s eco-system of opportunity and economic development was a key focus of the conference.

“It needs to be inclusive and equitable for everybody,” said Rhonda Welsh, Executive Director of Detroit Outreach at Central Michigan University. “I’m so excited about this conference because it’s celebrating what’s good about our city about it’s also letting us know where our challenges are and where our opportunities are.”