According to information recently released from the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, minority and women-owned businesses have been shut out of the economic revitalization that has been on the rise in Detroit in recent years. Local leaders are reporting that inclusion in the city’s commercial and residential projects such as the redevelopment of the river walk, a new hockey arena and entertainment district, a light-rail transit development, and a public lighting system, and road and construction projects has disappeared.
“Billions of dollars in economic growth have occurred in Detroit over the last several years, limiting inclusion of black-owned and minority firms who are reportedly being shut out of the process to compete, circumventing a much needed fairness doctrine used by other successful urban centers in America,” said Tony Stovall of the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. “In a city that is more than 80 percent African-American […] more than 32,000 black-owned businesses are witness to economic abandonment, which members of the black chamber find as a situation that is deplorable and an impediment to post civil and economic advancements. The number of black-owned and minority businesses participating and included in these projects are at staggeringly low levels and must change for Detroit and Michigan to be seen as competitive with the rest of the nation.”
Statistically, the Michigan Black Chamber has the largest national black supplier database and membership from diverse industries and sectors in specific technologies as well as retailers, global suppliers, professional services companies, manufacturers and general contractors, who have the capacity, scope and scale to compete in the country. Members of the African-American and Detroit minority business community say they are, fundamentally, observers to the economic prosperity occurring in select areas of the city.
Ken Harris, president and CEO of Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, says that some of the projects are hundred-million-dollar investments that are subsidized by the majority population’s tax dollars, which African-Americans and other minority taxpayers have deposited as a down payment on the future of Detroit. To date, no one is advocating the need for inclusive black-owned and minority-participation outreach, policy and partnerships.