A group of young leaders in the city of Detroit agreed at the Michigan Chronicle’s “Pancakes and Politics” speaker’s forum at the Detroit Athletic Club that the city does not need rebranding.
The audience agreed. A poll of the event’s 250 guests revealed over 80 percent of them believed that the city’s Motor City image needed no change and was “alive and well.”
“What made us the Motor City was the fact that we were the leaders and innovators,” said Rev. Charles Williams, Pastor of Historic King Solomon Baptist Church and President of National Action Network Michigan.
“ Detroit is Detroit,” Williams insisted that the Motor City is not a dying brand and that Detroit needs to focus on how to include its citizens in its development.
He said Detroit should not try to replicate other large cities like New York and Washington D.C. who have had issues with the displacement of their native residents with an influx of young talent.
The panel, representative of Detroit’s various communities, emphasized the need to include the existing community in the city’s development, as well as draw talent from outside of the city.
Panelist Eric Thomas,a senior partner and brand specialist at Saga Marketing , suggested the idea of “innovative inclusion” where employers utilize the diverse skill sets of Detroit natives that may not always be reflected in their resumes but can be applied to jobs.
“We can’t keep importing people form other places saying we can’t find people in Detroit, when you know people in Detroit who are graphic designers, videographers, rappers, writers, painters and can also fix your roof,” said Thomas.
The panel also included Tatiana Grant, President or Infused PR and Events and Co-Founder of Flash Delivery; Katherine Cockrel, an Associate Vice President Finn Partners; and Tyson Gersh, President and Co-Founder of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.
Of the 11 years that the Michigan Chronicle has done the Pancakes and Politics forum, this is the first panel of it’s kind. “We’ve been wanting to have a panel like this for 10 years, hearing the voices of the younger generation talk about their views about what’s going on in our town,” said Hiram Jackson, Real Times Media CEO and Michigan Chronicle publisher.
Ric DeVore, the Regional President for PNC, a major partner in the event, echoed this sentiment, “At the end of the day we need to turn this over to the next generation.”
“Pancakes and Politics” will be aired Sunday at 11:30 a.m on CBS 62’s Michigan Matters.