Category: Top News Written by Damon Autry
Bill Pickard, Don Coleman, Leon Richardson and Rodney O'Neal
One hundred Black presidents and CEOs. That sentence alone speaks volumes. It speaks to the heights to which African-Americans have risen in business. It speaks to the beauty of dreams and the focus, dedication and preparation necessary to attain them. But perhaps most importantly, it speaks more to the possibility of such achievements than the achievements themselves. It makes us all glow with pride, knowing that those who have ascended up the corporate or entrepreneurial ladder did so not with a faint heart, but with an undying and unyielding faith in themselves and their vision.
The men and women featured in this year’s edition of “Who’s Who in Black Detroit” have certainly overcome tough obstacles and made untold sacrifices to reach this level, both personal and professional. And maybe that’s what makes their accomplishments so admirable. To navigate the treacherous terrain of the business world and achieve what they have achieved is a telling statement and one that, again, speaks volumes.
There are entrepreneurs on the list and there are those who climbed the corporate ladder. Neither is less impressive than the other, but it should be pointed out that African-American-owned businesses are on the rise. From 2002 to 2007, the number of Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million, more than triple the national rate of 18.0 percent. Over the same period, receipts generated by Black-owned businesses increased 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion. In 2007, the retail trade, healthcare and social assistance sectors accounted for 27.4 percent of Black-owned business revenue. And with 32,490 establishments, Detroit ranked fourth in the nation of cities with Black-owned businesses, behind New York, Chicago and Houston.
The 100 Black presidents and CEOs featured in the publication make up a cross section of business disciplines and industries. These leaders represent the automotive, construction, education, healthcare, hospitality, media and the nonprofit industries and employ thousands of people in and around Southeast Michigan. These businessmen and businesswomen have proven to be the best and brightest at what they do; many of them have received industry awards, acknowledgements from their original equipment manufacturer (OEM), automotive clients or generally remained at the top of the list in their respective industry.
The economic impact of these companies is big for this region. Collectively, they total billions of dollars in annual revenue and contribute handsomely to the overall economic recovery and vibrancy in Southeast Michigan. Several individuals on the list operate multiple entities.
Dr. Bill Pickard not only heads Global Automotive Alliance, he also owns six McDonald’s franchises in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. He is most proud of the fact that he’s assisted others with obtaining McDonald’s franchises. Leon Richardson of ChemicoMays operates the largest African-American-owned chemical management concern in North America, and his company’s stellar delivery of quality goods and services has earned it General Motors’ Supplier of the Year award three consecutive years. Don Coleman of GlobalHue runs the largest ad agency targeting minority consumers. His clients include Verizon Wireless, Walmart and Chrysler Group LLC, among others.
There’s Dr. Herman Gray, Children’s Hospital’s first African-American president; Mark Douglas, second-generation leader of Avis Ford in Southfield, taking the reins from his father, Walter Douglas; Gregory Jackson of Prestige Automotive, one of the first African-American-owned companies to gross more than $1 billion. There’s Bill Perkins of the Perkins Automotive Group; he is also the first African-American co-chair of the prestigious North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Ron Hall Sr. of Bridgewater Interiors was awarded a $900 million contract with General Motors, the largest contract ever handed out to a minority business by GM.
The success stories that abound throughout the publication are inspirational and a testimony to the benefits of dedicated and focused hard work. Many of these individuals came from little, whereas others may have been provided a bit of a head start economically. Regardless of the origin of their journey, each individual, to one degree or another, withstood systemic pushback but persevered and ultimately reached their destination. They are all solid pillars in our community and deserving of being celebrated.
To obtain a copy of the 6th edition of “Who’s Who in Black Detroit,” visit www.whoswhopublishing.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:05
Category: Top News Written by Minni Forman
Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder today announced a plan to revitalize Belle Isle Park through a state-city partnership. The plan calls for a 30-year lease of the island park where the City would maintain ownership and the State would manage and fund park operations through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). According to Bing, the plan will restore Belle Isle to its initial beauty while and saving the city $275 million over the next 30 years.
“This is a win-win situation for the City and the entire State,” Bing told reporters at a press conference Wednesday morning. “We want the gem [that is] Belle Isle to be polished again.” Bing said he had spoken with several council members and is optimistic. “They are supportive of this. We all want the same thing … to make Belle Isle a safe, beautiful place for people to take their families.” If the City Council approves the plan, the first actions the DNR will take is to sharply up the safety patrols on the island and restore athletic fields and restroom areas, Snyder said.
There are also long-term projects for the island including more recreational activities and re-opening the aquarium, boathouse and canals. “We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with the City on a City-owned asset,” he told reporters. He said the proposal is an example of the State working “hand in hand” with the City. “This isn’t Detroit versus Michigan, this is Detroit, Michigan,” he said. If the lease is approved, Belle Isle will become a state park while maintaining city ownership.
The 36 recreation workers assigned to Belle Isle would not lose their jobs but instead be reassigned to other city parks and recreation centers, Bing said. According to George Jackson, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the entire island will be under DNR control with the exception of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservancy greenhouse. Snyder said the funding for the Belle Isle improvements would come from bonds paid for by the DNR and a number of grants. But said he was not going to “focus on dollar amounts”.
Under the 30-year lease, all state park rules would apply to Belle Isle including an annual $10 fee for private vehicles to enter the island. There would be no entry fee for people on foot, bikes or buses. Bing said he thought the Belle Isle announcement should be bigger news than former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s federal corruption trial. “We can’t let negative things that have gone on in the past overshadow out future,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:52
Category: Breaking News Written by Minni Forman
There’s the real world, and there’s the media’s interpretation of the real world. That was the message from lawyers for both sides of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s federal trial stated repeatedly Tuesday morning as the jury selection process continued. “You understand the difference between reality and TV, right?” Michael Bullotta, prosecution attorney, asked a prospective juror who said she got most of her news from watching local TV. “ That thing, that tube, it’s entertainment” he said.
The idea that media sources are negative entertainment that is biased against Kilpatrick was a theme in the courtroom. One perspective juror, when asked if she had an opinion of Kilpatrick, said she didn’t have one because she didn’t know him. She said her bad impression of the former mayor and Detroit came from watching the news. “I had a negative feeling about the image of Detroit and Mr. Kilpatrick … that I didn’t have prior to media—the entertainment tube,” she said. Ultimately, she said she could set her negative impressions garnered through the media aside. Judge Nancy Edmunds added approved her to continue through the selection process despite objections from the defense team.
Race was another topic that the defense attorneys asked nearly every perspective juror. While all of the defendants are of African or Hispanic descent, most of the perspective jurors questioned on Tuesday were white, non-Hispanic descent. They were asked how they felt about affirmative action, and whether minorities are treated fairly in criminal trials. Race and issues surrounding the trail are “blasted through the media like everything else,” John Shea, a defense attorney representing Bobby Ferguson told a perspective juror.
Even a few light jokes were cracked. When one potential juror said she lived an hour outside of Detroit and rarely tuned in to Detroit news topics, Kilpatrick’s’ lead attorney James Thomas pointed out that she didn’t confine herself to her rural home. “You get around,” he said to instant chuckles from people in the courtroom including members of the press. Thomas took a chance to throw a zinger at the press, “So they do have a sense of humor,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:39
Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
The Democratic National Convention is over. Now the real work begins for Democrats to energize their base for November despite what some skewed and twisted polling results have shown, that the turnout in the African-American community will be low in the presidential election.
These so-called pollsters are already calling Election Day in Michigan for Gov. Mitt Romney, saying he is ahead of President Barack Obama in the manufacturing state. The polls also fail to realize that a presidential election is different from a local election, and the stakes are higher in a presidential season.
Foster McCollum White Baydoun in a recent poll has Romney up by four points. This same polling firm released a survey in Florida, a battleground for Medicare and Medicaid showing Romney ahead of Obama by 15 points.
Mitchell Research, run by Steve Mitchel,l said only 8 percent of Black voters will come out this year in the presidential election. Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Nate Silver debunked these results, citing exit polling and Census data that contradict Mitchell’s survey.
“By contrast, Black voters represented 12 percent of the turnout in Michigan in 2008 according to exit polls, and 14 percent according to another source, the Current Population Survey. Blacks also made up 13 percent of Michigan’s vote in 2004 and 11 percent in 2000, according to exit polls. African-American participation is sometimes lower in midterm election years, but Blacks were 12 percent of Michigan’s electorate in 2006, the exit poll reported that year. (There was no exit polling in Michigan in 2010.),” Silver wrote in the New York Times.
What data are these pollsters using to determine the outcomes in this election?
Are these polls meant to sway voters toward Romney?
I’ve always been skeptical of polls because I believe they severely underpresent minority communities, including the African-American community.
Added to that is the fact that we are never told explicitly the kinds of questions that were asked of voters during the polling or how the questions were asked.
We don’t know the economic status of those who are polled to determine how they will respond to two men with different economic visions for the country.
One can always get the kind of answer they are seeking based on how the question is asked.
Also in this age of social media revolution where most young people and minorities are on their cell phones much of the time, are these pollsters utilizing cell phones in their surveys?
These sort of incorrect polling data serve as an opium to further discourage voters from the polls by concluding that one candidate is already winning.
Also absent in some of these polls is the fact that this year a series of initiatives will be on the November ballot based on recent Michigan Supreme Court rulings, including collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining is an energizer issue that will get a lot of voters who work in the public sector to the polls in November.
And a majority of African-Americans work in the public sector rather than the private sector which is why the economic recovery initiatives from the Obama administration have to some extent helped those Black families that depend on public sector jobs for their livelihoods.
We should not fall for the so-called polling surveys, especially when Census data and accurate exit polling from previous elections in Michigan contradict Mitchell’s survey as it relates to the Black vote.
In a recent CBS radio interview I was asked why the majority of African-Americans should vote for President Obama given that the economy has not improved significantly?
The question further centered around unemployment and the housing mortgage crisis, both of which began to severely tank under George W. Bush in 2006. When the administration took over in 2009, almost 750,000 jobs were lost every month.
But the other issue that seems to be downplayed and perhaps not asked in this so-called polling is how President Obama has been racially vilified by the extreme right and the de-legitimization campaign launched against him.
So my response in the CBS interview was that if in fact the opposition against the president thinks that the unemployment rate would discourage Black voters from the polls, they are fooling themselves because the actions of the extreme right against the president only serve as an incentive for African-Americans to turn out in large numbers. In part they will be coming out to allow the president to continue to clean up what President Bill Clinton called “the mess” George W. Bush created.
Secondly, they will be coming out to rebuke extreme right wing politics which has during the last two years used race to stoke fires with their base.
Why don’t these two pollsters in Michigan conduct a poll among African- American voters about how President Obama was called a liar in the halls of Congress by a Republican congressman, and his birthplace and education questioned. Ask Black voters in Michigan if they care about how the president’s governance has been repeatedly punctuated by these attacks, and whether such racist attacks will motivate them to the polls.
Detroit, the most Democratic stronghold in the state, has to prove these pollsters wrong even though their data is already questionable.
The fact is the Black voter decides presidential elections. No Democratic president has won office without the Black vote.
So any effort to render the Black vote insignificant will fall flat because it is fact that Democrats have long enjoyed the African-American vote as its bedrock, before the large arrival of the Hispanic vote which has been growing in record numbers.
All I ask of the pollsters is to do justice to voters by stating the facts. Tell us what questions were asked and how the questions were put to voters. Tell us the economic demographics of those polled. Doing so would be a great public service.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:30
Category: Breaking News Written by Melody Moore
SPECIALTO THE CHRONICLE
Metro Detroiters will soon see a new restaurant, Detroit’s Cheesecake Bistro, open in Greektown. The restaurant aims to be an affordable high-end venue for metro Detroiters to dine with lunch menu items starting at $7.99.
The owner, La-Van Hawkins, is not a stranger to Detroit. He has operated several million dollar chains including Pizza Hut, Burger King and Checker’s fast food restaurants. Additionally, he operated Sweet Georgia Brown with several partners, although it later closed. Detroit’s Cheesecake Bistro, will open on the former Sweet Georgia Brown site.
Hawkins, who has had his share of ups and downs, is committed to making a lasting contribution to Detroit with the restaurant’s opening.
Set with a blue, brown and cream décor, Detroit’s Cheesecake Bistro will offer an array of menu choices.
“I left Detroit in 2004 and to be able to come back in 2012 is phenomenal,” Hawkins said. “I was out of the market for eight years and I was able to travel and spend time in others cities. This restaurant will allow me to include different pieces of other cities and some of Detroit’s own scenery.”
He added that Detroit’s Cheesecake Bistro will offer stellar service, welcoming ambience and quality, affordable food.
“I saw a need for an affordable upscale restaurant,” he added. “I used the prices of $7.99 to $9.99 for lunch to get the working people to be able to afford it. First, people will be blown away by the ambience when they come in, then they will experience great customer service and their minds will be blown away again by the affordable menu prices.”
Challenges are not new to Hawkins who grew up in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Project; He was surrounded by crime, got involved in gangs and started using drugs. But later he set his feet on a different path and operated several successful businesses. He stumbled in 2005, and was convicted of several charges in connection with the Philadelphia city government. He also faced federal charges and served time for a failure to pay federal taxes in Detroit.
The unstoppable Hawkins, did not emerge from the experience unscathed.
“What I went through humbled me,” he said. “It polished me, groomed me and humbled me. You can be so successful that you think you belong to the untouchables club and I ended spending 18 months in a federal prison.”
As a teenager, Hawkins’ father died and he dropped out of high school to take care for his mother. Soon he would be introduced to the restaurant and hospitality industry where he would spend more than 30 years of his career.
Starting as a janitor in a downtown Chicago McDonald’s, he later became the owner and operator of a more than $200-million business.
Hawkins has operated several companies in the restaurant industry, including Urban City Foods and the Hawkins Food Group, which operated several fast food chains including Pizza Hut, Checkers (formerly known as Rally’s), Burger King and the upscale Sweet Georgia Brown.
Under the Global Hospitality Group, Hawkins and several other partners are planning to launch a series of additional eateries, all in Detroit, with a goal of 10 restaurants opening within one year. Among them are Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse.
Before grand opening of his new restaurant, Hawkins said he will feed at least 5,000 as a way to thank metro Detroiters for their support. Plans are to offer meals to city workers, public officials, teachers, students and homeless people.
Making an investment in the city is what Hawkins would like to be known for.
“When it’s all over, I hope people will say he made a difference,” said Hawkins. “I want to touch people’s lives and leave a legacy. I want people to say he was a guy who cared about the people. I intend to build a legacy behind my name that my children will be proud of years down the line.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:25
Category: Breaking News Written by Hiram Jackson, Gov. Rick Synder and Mayor Dave Bing
The City of Detroit and State of Michigan’s announcement of the partnership to enhance Belle Isle is a defining moment in relations between city and state. The agreement will provide formidable resources to support much-needed improvements to what is undoubtedly one of Detroit’s most valuable assets.
These types of announcements signal positive change for the city of Detroit and make good on Gov. Rick Snyder’s pledge to focus on urban revitalization efforts and Mayor Bing’s promise to reinvent Detroit.
As a longtime resident of Detroit and a parent of two, I hope that my children will experience the same level of enjoyment in Belle Isle that so many of us treasure.
Positive change is coming and it means good things for us all.
Hiram E. Jackson
CEO, Real Times Media, Interim Publisher, Michigan Chronicle
The Time Has Come TO Revitalize Belle Isle
By Gov. Rick Synder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Belle Isle is a Detroit jewel.
Rich in history and ripe in nostalgia for Detroit citizens and Michiganders, the island park is at the heart of the city’s identity.
This signature space should be protected and enhanced. Future generations deserve to have the same opportunities past generations have had to enjoy the island’s forested beauty as a site for family reunions and afternoon picnics, a place to swim and relax on a hot summer afternoon, a retreat into nature.
We strongly believe that the best way to protect and enhance Belle Isle is through a cooperative agreement between the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan. Giving special attention – including additional resources – to Belle Isle will benefit everybody in the state by restoring the sheen to one of those special places that make Michigan home.
The city and state have drafted a proposed lease agreement that would create the foundation for this Belle Isle partnership. The lease would allow the city to continue to own Belle Isle. At the same time, the agreement would allow the State of Michigan to lease the island from the city for 30 years, with the opportunity for the lease to continue for two additional 30-year periods.
The period of the lease is long enough for the state to secure funding for projects on the island, and brief enough that Detroit citizens won’t have to feel as though one of their most precious public assets has been irrevocably transferred to state hands. At the same time, the City of Detroit will be able to take funds that would have been spent on Belle Isle and redirect that money to other critical needs.
What will this lease mean for the citizens of Detroit and for Belle Isle?
Two words: Positive change.
The state agencies that will be part of this significant undertaking intend to put in place a transition team that will make immediate improvements on Belle Isle.
Job one will be to make sure park visitors feel they are in a safe environment, one they will feel comfortable patronizing with family and friends.
Next, we plan to make improvements to some of the facilities that are closed or in need of repair. Those improvements include renovating and opening restrooms. Buildings will be retrofitted with energy efficiency updates. Picnic shelters will be renovated and rehabilitated.
Permanent staff for Belle Isle Park will be interviewed and hired. Staffers on the island who currently work for the City of Detroit will be redeployed to work in neighborhood parks, improving the city parks system overall.
A new endowment will be put in place for long-term sustainable funding. All park revenue from grants, endowments and other sources that derive from Belle Isle will be placed in a special restricted account to administer, maintain and improve the park. If the money is meant for Belle Isle, it will be spent on Belle Isle. New resources will be tapped to make this partnership work.
The lease arrangement will allow the island to benefit from funding available to Michigan State Parks that could not otherwise be used. The state’s Department of Natural Resources will seek grants from a number of sources, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, for improvements on Belle Isle.
Money from those various sources would be used for restoration of picnic shelters that have fallen into disrepair and restrooms that have been shuttered far too long. The grants would be used, also, for fishing pier improvements and new signs to help people find their way around the park.
The DNR has bonding capacity that can be used to make capital improvements on Belle Isle. The Michigan Department of Transportation will tap available funds to improve roads on the island. Nearly every DNR division – the agency’s forest professionals, wildlife and fisheries specialists and its recreation experts – will have a role in making Belle Isle work so people can play.
But the partnership to improve Belle Isle will not be just a government effort. Non-profit groups and businesses such as the Belle Isle Conservancy, Penske Corp., Ducks Unlimited, Mid-Michigan Recycling have already agreed to lend a hand in supporting this important project. More community-minded organizations will no doubt come forward over time.
The refurbished island will work hand-in-glove with Milliken State Park and the ever-improving Detroit riverfront. Consistent management and cooperative partnerships will help create a similar feel, a common standard of care and a dependable level of safety along all of these public lands.
Together, we can make Belle Isle a place that will keep making memories for a new generation of Detroiters. We owe that to Belle Isle and its amazing history. We owe that to the people of Detroit and the state of Michigan.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:19
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 10:04
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
- Any and all records from Jan. 1, 2008 to now regarding the purchase of waste hauling trucks by Warren, and the purchase or acquisition of any parts for those trucks, including tires.
- Any and all electronic communication, including emails, which Ghanam sent, received or was copied on from Jan. 1, 2008, to the present.
- Any and all records regarding any contract between Warren and Detroit Renewable Energy and/or Detroit Renewable Power, including internal reports and communications, emails and memos related to vendors.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 09:56
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 09:41
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) - The Southfield Police Department is asking for the publics’ assistance in identifying a female that is suspected of being involved in a check fraud ring.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 09:29
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