The DCDT Talk series features a wide variety of speakers such as, from left, Michael Wayland, a reporter with Automotive News; Jason Hall, founder of Slow Roll; Marie Donigan, former state representative and current Royal Oak City Commissioner; and Bill Canning, the vice president of GenZe by Mahindra. On the far right is moderator Karen Evans.

The DCDT Talk series features a wide variety of speakers such as, from left, Michael Wayland, a reporter with Automotive News; Jason Hall, founder of Slow Roll; Marie Donigan, former state representative and current Royal Oak City Commissioner; and Bill Canning, the vice president of GenZe by Mahindra. On the far right is moderator Karen Evans.

Photo provided by Jo Caputo


Panel discussion to focus on spreading business outside of downtown Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published April 27, 2018

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DETROIT — As part of an ongoing series discussing issues affecting Detroit, particularly businesses, the Detroit Center of Design and Technology is hosting a panel discussion and public forum on the topic of bridging the business gap between downtown Detroit and the rest of the city.

Called “Downtown to the Neighborhoods,” the panel discussion will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, in the gallery of the DCDT at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Willis Street. The organizers hope members of the public and local business owners will attend to both share their thoughts and learn from others in the community.

“We are really looking at business ownership both in downtown and into the neighborhoods, and to facilitate questions about what resources are available and provide advice from our panelists based on their experiences,” said Karen Evans, the moderator for the panel and the series director.

Among the panel members at the discussion will be April Boyle, who is the founder of the Build Institute, an idea activator and small business incubator intended to build wealth and ownership throughout Detroit’s neighborhoods.

“This particular event is focused on the topic of spreading business growth from downtown to the neighborhoods, which means we’ll be talking about design, architecture, opportunity, entrepreneurship, talent activation and the growth of new and existing businesses,” said Boyle. “We want it to be a discussion and interactive with the audience”

Evans said the economic environment in Detroit is constantly shifting, and she believes that getting a more well-rounded picture of the situation is crucial to anyone who owns a small business in the area or hopes to in the near future.

“I really hope (those in attendance) walk away a little bit more informed about what is the landscape of business building, both in the city center and in the neighborhoods,” said Evans. “I hope they really participate and ask specific questions they may have, such as whether they should be a brick and mortar business or a mobile business or a home-based business.”

A major focus of the event will be the recent economic growth in the downtown area and how to spread that growth outward into the city’s neighborhoods; something many residents have said is not happening.

“On one hand, we have a lot of amazing resources and investments in the city right now,” said Evans. “Organizations like the Build Institute are here, but there are also areas where we can improve. This includes topics like bringing more attention to bringing more investment to areas outside the city center and how equitable opportunities in the city are.”

Evans said organizers were able to gather a variety of panel members for the discussion to provide a wide range of perspectives on the issues.

“I am excited about our panel because we have Raquel Castañeda-López, the councilwoman from District 6, and other members who are able to reach out to smaller businesses in neighborhoods, such as Lisa Waud, the owner of Pot and Box, and Paddy Lynch, owner of The Schvitz,” said Evans. “The diversity of our panel should provide some great insight into continuing the city’s positive momentum while addressing concerns about others in the city being left behind.”

Boyle said having these kinds of talks are essential for the continued growth of the Detroit community.

“This is a great conversation I think people in the area need to have,” said Boyle. “The more people we can bring to the table, the better. It is a valid concern that there is currently a mindset of downtown versus the neighborhoods versus the suburbs. We (at the Build Institute) promote an attitude we call “co-opertition” — which means cooperating even while you are in competition with one another — because it takes a community effort and a certain amount of understanding to make sure growth is available to all to grow an economic ecosystem in the community.”

The organizers prefer that those wishing to attend RSVP on the DCDT Facebook page, facebook.com/detdesigntech. Registration is free and primarily so the organizers can plan on food and beverages.

The panel is the second in a series of public discussions called DCDT Talk about topics affecting the Detroit community.

“The first one in March was about mobility in Detroit, which talked about how people can get around the city in Detroit; there will be one on workplace diversity in May; another in June in terms of race, age, LGBTQ, and more; and in July, there will be a talk called ‘Myths and Realities of Detroit’s silicon plains,’ which talks about Detroit’s place in the technology landscape,” said Evans. “In August, there will be an event where people talk and share about failure and how it’s a necessary aspect of entrepreneurship and creativity. We will be talking about technology in September, and there will be another called ‘Growing up Creative in Detroit.’ The last talk is in October, which will discuss defining an exit strategy and defining what the end goal of a business endeavor should be.”

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