RECAP: Hill Harper Keynote Address
2020 Detroit Policy Conference







Harper’s takeaway message in achieving one’s dreams and to make a difference, is to overcome fear can which can aspirations. Harper’s definition of Fear is “False evidence appearing real.” (Photo by HB Meeks/Tell Us Detroit)

  The Detroit 2020 Policy Conference ends with high hopes for the coming decade

By Karen Hudson Samuels
Tell Us Detroit

DETROIT - Defining Detroit’s future in the next decade was the theme of 2020 Detroit Policy Conference Wednesday at the Motor City Casino Hotel. Elected officials, entrepreneurs and thought leaders from community groups gathered to share their outlook on the city’s future.

The city that created living wages, the forty hour week work and profit sharing and empowered families to buy homes is evolving said Dennis Archer Jr. of the Detroit Regional Chamber who delivered the opening remarks of the conference.

Archer then sat down for a 30 minute conversation with Mayor Mike Duggan, to discuss the transformative renovation the city is experiencing in its neighborhoods and industrial landscape.

Mayor Duggan praised General Motors CEO Mary Barra for changing course in deciding not to close Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly at a time she was being widely criticized for announcing its closure.

“I just called her in the middle of the chaos, she answered the phone and we talked for a long time” said Duggan; who urged Barra to take the risk of a big investment in the future of automation and electric vehicles. Ultimately, General Motors announced a $2.2 billion dollar investment to build an entirely new Detroit Hamtramck plant that will manufacture electric vehicles.

The conversation then shifted from industrial investment to the U.S. Census and the redevelopment along Livernois Avenue in northwest Detroit.

The streetscape along a stretch of Livernois came about said Duggan because folks wanted services in their neighborhood. Having a great commercial strip along the Avenue of Fashion was an idea that led to meetings during the summer of 2018 with business owners and hundreds of residents who were presented designs to create a new roadway. The collective wisdom of the community resulted in a $17 million improvement along Livernois with three lanes of traffic, no more median down middle, wider sidewalks, bike lanes and outdoor patio space. Duggan said “If you haven’t been there, go on a Friday or Saturday night, come see what’s going in” adding that in last twelve months, thirteen new businesses have opened along Livenois most of them black owned,

The importance of the census on April 1st was stressed by the Mayor who said an undercount of about 30,000 in the last census cost the city millions that could have gone to school lunches, Medicaid and other programs.

The Federal government cut funding for the 2020 census and there is no office of the U.S Census Bureau in Detroit, instead it is located in Chicago. The Mayor said Washington has shown no interest and has spurred fear among immigrants; to dispel apprehension Duggan emphasized that the Census counts inhabitants not citizens.

To boost census turnout the city has $1.7 million dollar campaign with a network of count locations in the neighborhoods and jobs at $24.00 an hour to work on the census. The Mayor said trust and the voices of the ethnic and minority communities are important to encourage participation in the census count.

An important issue for local and regional businesses is to attract and retain. Tell Us USA News Network caught up with volunteer Ambassadors of “Let’s Detroit” in the exhibition space for community groups. “Let’s Detroit” mission is connect talent with a network of professionals who know Detroit and guide talent to initiatives, people and events that are having a positive impact on the region. The next decade will rest with the likes of “Let’s Detroit” and its Ambassadors.





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