Category: Business - Original Written by Ross Woodstock, ACC
Special to the Chronicle
The Michigan Chapter of Associated General Contractors (AGC) awarded Tooles Contracting and Clark Construction a 2013 Build Michigan Award for the construction of New East English Village Preparatory Academy in Detroit. The award was presented on Friday, Feb. 22, at the Firekeepers Casino & Hotel in Battle Creek.
“To be recognized by the AGC for a Build Michigan Award is an exceptional accomplishment, and we are honored,” said Damon Toole, president of Tooles Contracting Group. “We’re especially proud to be a part of the team that developed a LEED Gold building that will set sustainability standards for future city projects in Michigan.”
“We were thrilled to be involved with a project in Detroit,” said Clark Construction President Sam Clark. “I am proud that our company had a hand in rebuilding the Detroit Public Schools system, especially for Detroit’s youth who truly deserve constructive learning environments and enhanced opportunities for future success.”
The New East English Village Preparatory Academy has transformed two schools into one academic setting, creating a permanent home and a safe, modern learning environment that strengthens the school community and the city of Detroit.
The building is a 221,000-square-foot high school that accommodates up to 1,200 students. The school features four wings, with eight science laboratories, a high-tech media center, and an athletic area with a community health clinic.
A performing arts section includes an 800-seat auditorium, small black box theater with a scene shop and dressing rooms, a 2,400 square-foot band room and a 1,900-square foot choir room.
A cafeteria commons anchors the four wings and serves as an assembly area. The school also features an indoor athletic wing containing a gymnasium with bleacher seats for 1,300 spectators, an eight-lane competition pool and diving well with balcony seating for 230. Outside facilities include a football and track-and-field complex with stadium seating for 1,100.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 13:03
Category: Business - Original Written by Damon Autry
That Jerome Harvey has been a successful entrepreneur for more than three decades should come as no surprise to those that know him. Harvey grew up an only child in Albion, Michigan, a small town nestled between Jackson and Battle Creek, where he developed the self-reliance that has aided in his achievements as a businessman. His parents were caring and nurturing, yet demanding of young Jerome.
“I stand on the shoulders of my parents, there’re no two ways about that,” he says. “They were big believers in education, having a good work ethic and learning how to do things.” And growing up in a town that at the time had less than 5,000 people also proved beneficial. “We were encouraged by our neighbors to do well,” he says of those growing up in Albion. “It was expected of us.”
Harvey left Albion to attend Eastern Michigan University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. It was during his sophomore year, however, that his future began to come into focus. That’s when he decided that one day he would be an entrepreneur. “I was pretty clear on what I wanted to do. I felt I was going to be an entrepreneur. I’ve always been entrepreneurially driven.” Harvey landed a job at General Motors after college. His career at the automotive giant included engineering, purchasing and serving as a Launch Team Leader.
He spent eight years at GM, calling it the greatest education he has ever had from a manufacturing perspective. “GM was a good career step for me. It was a great opportunity to learn and understand the corporate culture,” he said. “And there were also many opportunities to learn new things and take on new challenges. I always tried to be the first to raise my hand and say I’ll take on a new assignment. It was just a great learning experience.”
Harvey left GM in 1981 to launch Harvey Industries. Initially focused on machine tooling operations, the company quickly grew in scope to become a major supplier to the original equipment manufacturers. And while leading the efforts to provide top quality components, Harvey Industries was recognized with Ford Motor Company’s Silver World Excellence Award. Headquartered in Livonia, Harvey Industries has grown to include plants in Westland, Michigan; Wabash, Indiana; Aiken, South Carolina; and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The primary product mix includes aluminum and iron casting, machining and plastic molding for key engine components.
The diverse business offerings allow Harvey Industries to become a one-stop shop for its customers. Specifically, it allows Harvey to control the quality of his products and gives him an advantage in delivery speed. “We’re able to respond quickly to customer needs, and that has been a substantial part of our growth,” he says.
Harvey is a graduate of Dartmouth College’s Tuck Executive Program. He has also served as a member of the Eastern Michigan College of Business Development Board, the National Association of Black Suppliers (NABS), the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC), the North Ohio Minority Business Council, the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, and the Detroit-Windsor Chapter of the American Foundry Society.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 09:40
Category: Business - Original Written by Amber Bogins, Entertainment Editor
Detroit is reinventing itself and the way businesses operate in the city.
A new business model in Detroit appears to be pop-up businesses which are springing up in key areas, including Midtown, Corktown and the Villages. The emergence and success of pop-ups will be discussed Thursday, Feb. 28, during the Detroit Policy Conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. The panel discussion will be moderated by Claire Nelson, publisher for Model D Media.
The panelists include Jordi Carbonell, owner of Café Con Leche del Easte; Brian Ellison, business advocate for the city of Detroit; Bryan Lively, vice president of retail for Moosejaw Mountaineering; and Rachel Lutz, owner of The Peacock Room and Emerald Gift Shop. Café Con Leche, Moosejaw Mountaineering and the Emerald Gift Shop have opened pop-up shops in Detroit successfully. The panelist will discuss the lessons they’ve learned and policies that would make pop-up businesses a permanent fixture in Detroit’s growing small business environment.
“Pop-up businesses are growing in popularity not only in Detroit, but nationwide. People want to expand, but want to ensure that they are not taking on long-term debt. Detroit is an ideal market for pop-ups. Many parts of the city have been without a retail centers for a significant amount of time,” and Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Pop-up shops give entrepreneurs a chance to test drive a market lacking in solid retail presence.
Pop-up retail shops are trending throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom with companies temporarily opening a storefront anywhere from one day to six months as the Emerald Gift Shop did. They are not uncommon, but are most recognizable as seasonal shops, like Halloween costume shops or the Somerset Collection on Woodward.
The reimagining and utilization of this business model presents Detroit business owners with a unique opportunity to test the market in a given area without being locked into a long-term lease. It’s also a great tool for generating buzz about the company and its product. If consumers know that they can only get specific goods for a short time, it can increase traffic and support an ever- changing landscape.
As a part of the REVOLVE project, a partnership between the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and The Villages Community Development Corporation, Detroit Vegan Soul, a catering company, will open its first storefront, a pop- up café, this spring in the West Village. Detroit Vegan Soul has a specialized niche in soul food, and it is that type of diversity that lends itself well to the emerging pop-up business culture that is blossoming downtown migrating towards West Village.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 08:49
Category: Business - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
Participating as developers, or construction partners and bringing more than $1.2 billion in potential new investments and jobs to the city, minority-owned businesses have been an important part of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s (DEGC) success over the last two years.
Marvin Beatty and James Jenkins are both involved in the largest retail development in Detroit in more than 40 years. Beatty as one of the development partners and Jenkins as a construction contractor on the Gateway Marketplace at Woodward Avenue and Eight Mile Road. With Meijer and Marshalls as anchor tenants, Gateway Marketplace is the first major retail development and national grocer within Detroit in more than two decades.
DEGC had a critical role in the project, facilitating brownfield credits and setting up a local economic development authority to generate tax-increment financing to support the development. Beatty has also partnered with former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson in a bid to redevelop the Michigan State Fairgrounds, which is next to Gateway Marketplace.
Jenkins Construction is a $30 million-per-year operation that is also working on the Cobo Center renovation and a medical office building in Detroit that received brownfield help facilitated by DEGC. One of its latest projects is the renovation of a building in the Paradise Valley District, which will be the new home of the Michigan Chronicle. Jenkins says, “Detroit is a city of hardworking people and that is what I believe in. If you work hard, success will come your way.”
George Stewart is managing partner of Woodward SA-PK, LLC and other partnerships that are developing what’s known as the Woodward Garden block — a mixture of new construction and historic renovation that includes retail space, residential units and a restored entertainment venue. The development is on Woodward between Selden and Alexandrine streets in Midtown. Ten years ago, Stewart and another African-American partner, Michael Byrd, started with an idea of restoring a historic entertainment venue. The project has grown the project to include a mixed-use development comprising the entire block.
Stewart says that he was drawn to the Garden Theater, which was designed by the same architect, C. Howard Crane, who designed the Fox Theatre. “The Garden Theater had a lot of history to it,” said Stewart. “Where others saw blight, we saw opportunity.”
The project took 10 years because when the duo acquired the theater, they determined that the best way to proceed was to gain control of the entire block. DEGC helped in guiding the project through the complications of acquiring the additional properties. Further complicating the process, Stewart says that the financial collapse of 2008 hurt the project. They initially counted on National City Bank as an anchor tenant, but late PNC Bank participated providing much needed new market tax credits.
DEGC also contributed the knowledge and management coordination to allow the group to obtain $1 million in loans from the Michigan Strategic Fund and Detroit Casino Loan Fund, as well as brownfield incentives, a SmartBuildings grant for energy conservation and a Creative Corridor grant.
So far, the Blue Moon building has been restored, storefronts have been demolished and a 23,772 sq. ft. retail/commercial building has been built. Renovation of the theater, named the Woodward Garden Theater, is now in its final phase. The residential portion of the development is also being completed and is expected to open this fall.
The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is a private non-profit organization that has been dedicated since 1978 to helping businesses create new jobs and leverage private investment in the city of Detroit by providing technical, financial and development assistance to the city and the business community, from the start-up entrepreneur to the multinational corporation.
By combining public sector policy and direction with private sector leadership, DEGC is able to actively strengthen Detroit’s economic base.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 14:14
Category: Business - Original Written by George E. Curry
BEIJING (NNPA) – When Julia Wilson visited China for the first time in 2002, no one had to tell the former Los Angeles television reporter why China was known as “the Kingdom of Bikes.”
Wilson, who is CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Global Communications, said: “It was so different, especially with the bicycles. Imagine rush hour traffic – with bicycles. All of the bicycles would stop at the traffic light. It was a thing to behold. The cars were to the side because there were not many cars. Today, it’s the reverse and the cars have replaced the bikes.”
China is the world’s largest market for automobiles, making it “the Kingdom of Bikes” and “the Kingdom of Cars.” General Motors, despite entering the market after Volkswagen, is the best-selling foreign automaker.
Bicycles coexisting with automobiles, especially in urban areas, is just one aspect of life in China.
Lynne Coleman, who spent nine years as an administrator at international schools that cater to American expatriates in Beijing and Shanghai, gets excited when she reflects on her time in China.
“It is a place where I can dine on delicate fusion cuisine prepared by world-class French and American chefs, or choose a live snake for dinner and watch it killed, bloodied and cooked in front of me,” she said.
Her husband, Craig Trygstad, prefers reflecting on China’s rich history rather than its rich – and sometimes exotic – food.
“What I enjoyed most was getting to know the people,” said the former teacher. “And since I love history, it was great to be able to walk through so many of the sites I have read about –the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Soldiers, the harbor in Shanghai where Chiang Kai-shek’s army escaped to Taiwan as Mao’s forces chased them down.”
Carl Murphy, a 31-year-old Black businessman from Atlanta, speaks fluent Mandarin, is co-owner of a Shanghai nightclub, and operates a business with a close friend from Atlanta that assists U.S. entrepreneurs looking to do business in China.
“In major cities, you can eat foreign food every day, if you wish, live in the same areas as other foreigners, go to all English-speaking venues, and watch international news,” he said. “There are some foreigners I know who have been in China for almost 10 years and don’t speak the local language. Yet, many of their children are fluent. Some of them prefer to live in local housing, go to local Chinese restaurants every day and even befriend and date or marry Shanghai residents. It’s definitely a personal decision.”
Miles away from Shanghai, rural communities reflect another world.
“In 2006, it took about 40 minutes traveling by car beyond the Mu Tian Yu Great Wall visiting site west of Beijing to find yourself back a hundred years to a time and place where crops are harvested by hand and milled with a donkey,” said Lynne Coleman, a native of Lewiston, Idaho. “People have no indoor plumbing, the whole family sleeps on one kong (a concrete, horizontal chimney that provides some heat in the very cold winters) and three-room houses are heated with wood fires fueled by sticks gathered by hand and carried on the backs of residents.”
Many Chinese are moving away from such rural trappings to relocate to the city, where the per capita disposable income is more than four times that of rural communities.
“There are so many construction sites in Beijing, Shanghai and all over than when I was here before,” said Julia Wilson, whose company organizes tours to China, Brazil and other countries to help improve the image of African Americans abroad. “They are building so many apartments because you have so many rural people moving to the city for jobs. They have no place for these people to live.”
To slow China’s burgeoning population, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has adopted a one-child policy that restricts the right of parents to determine how many children they can have. In urban areas, couples are permitted to have one child and can apply to have a second if each parent was an only child. The policy is more relaxed in rural areas where couples can have a second child if the first one was a girl. Each person in a couple who violates China’s population control policy must pay a “social compensation fee,” which can be as high as 10 times a person’s annual income.
Some provinces have regulations that require women who violate the family-planning policy to abort their pregnancies. The other provinces insist on unspecified “remedial measures,” which in most cases leads to an abortion. Even with its strict population control, China is expected to grow to 1.4 billion people by 2020.
Of China’s current 1.3 billion people, 91.51 percent are Han. There are 55 ethnic minorities that total 110 million or 8.49 percent of the population, according to the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. A book titled, The Ethnic Groups of China by Wu Shimin listed 18 ethnic minority groups with a population exceeding 1 million: Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uyghur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyei, Korean, Manchu, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai and Li.
Government officials note with pride that in an effort to integrate ethnic minorities into Chinese society, they have what amounts to an affirmative action program. But the 2011 State Department annual report on human rights notes, “Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited. Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive preferential treatment in birth planning, university admissions, access to loans, and employment. However, the substance and implementation of ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against minorities remained widespread.”
Although a communist country, laws on the books in China provide a remarkable array of individual and group freedoms, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, operation of a free press and the right to a public trial before an independent judiciary.
In practice, however, those “freedoms” quickly disappear when the state makes a broad claim of “subversion of state power” or contend an action goes against “the interests of the state,” according to the U.S. State Department.
By definition, communist and democratic systems of government are fundamentally different. And there is also sharp difference in how citizens in China and the U.S. view theirrespective governments.
Chen Xuelian, director of the Social Survey Research Office at the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics, said: “According to surveys, the U.S. people believe more or trust their local government more than the central government. In China, the public trusts the central government more than the local government.”
Jiang Haishan, vice president of the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong in Shanghai, said: “In your politics, in western philosophy, government is absolutely evil. You keep watch on that necessary evil. In China, for over 2,000 years, government has the responsibility to take care of the people – government is good. Traditionally in China, government is like parents. Parents have the responsibility to take care of their children. But at the same time, parents have the authority to discipline them.”
In addition to a reverence for the central government, Chinese have an unshakable respect for the family, a carefully structured unit where children learn their role and are taught respect for authority and where the father’s word is final and not subject to challenge.
“China is where family-level decisions and sacrifices are made, based on the good of the family and not what is best for the individual,” explained Lynne Coleman, the American educator who spent nearly a decade in China. “The worst crime for ordinary people is bringing shame on the family.”
Children are taught at an early age that they must care for their parents when they grow old. Government officials invariably dye their hair black because of the widespread belief that people with white hair should be cared for in the sunset of their life and not do heavy work.
The government does the heavy and intrusive work of closely monitoring its citizens..
“Authorities monitored telephone conversations, fax transmissions, e-mail, text messaging, and Internet communications,” the U.S. State Department human rights report stated. “Authorities opened and censored domestic and international mail. Security services routinely monitored and entered residences and offices to gain access to computers, telephones, and fax machines.”
A.J. Liebling, the caustic press critic, is famous for saying, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”In China, all print and broadcast media is state-owned. Consequently, the State Department says, Chinese media is used “to propagate government views and [Communist Party] ideology.”
Zhu Yinghuang, former editor-in-chief of the English-language China Daily, disagrees.
“The philosophical thinking is different between Chinese and people in the U.S.,” he said. “Chinese don’t believe in absolute press freedom. All media has to be responsible. We have our boss and we listen to our boss. That doesn’t mean that the boss intervenes in the daily operation of the newspaper.”
Sometimes that’s exactly what happens.
The “boss”boldly intervened when the Southern Weekly, a newspaper in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, ran a New Year’s editorial calling for greater respect for constitutional rights in China, which was quickly rewritten by Tuo Zhen, the Communist Party’s top propaganda official in the province. The replacement editorial in the newspaper, also known as Southern Weekend, praised the party’s policies. The censorship touched off a newsroom strike and rare public protests in China.
Even foreign publications can’t escape the government’s watchful eye.
When the New York Times ran a story last October disclosing that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s family had amassed $2.7 billion, Internet access to the story in China was quickly blocked. Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, are blocked in China for various reasons, including the ability to be used as anti-government organizing tools.
Despite media censorship and ironclad government control, some foreigners sending email to China have been able to slip content critical of the government past the legions of censors. And despite a reluctance to speak out publicly, citizens often criticize their government in small, private settings.
Chinese are quick to note some positive aspects of their government.
“This country reserves seats for certain minorities at all levels of government,” said Alexander Tzang, former deputy president of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and special adviser to the China-United States Exchange Foundation. “We have reserved seats for non-Communists, for females, for minorities and so on. They are guaranteed seats. They don’t come by elections. That’s not really democracy. But if you look at it from another angle, is it better to have minority voices being heard more vividly? It is much more equitable representation.”
Many are hoping that Xi Jimping, the new general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, will keep his pledge to promote a more open society, including following China’s 1982 Constitution.
Xi, who was elevated several months ago along with six new members of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee Political Bureau, said: “The CPC should be able to put up with sharp criticism, correct mistakes if it has committed them and avoid them if it has not.”
Until that becomes a reality in China, as long as citizens and foreigners stay away from the sensitive topics of Taiwan, Tibet, the Falun Gong religious sect and criticism of the Communist Party of China, they can live what is considered a normal life in China.
“What I enjoy most about China is the open-mindedness of people,” said Carl Murphy, the Atlanta native now living in Shanghai. “The ironic thing is Chinese people are portrayed as a bit robotic and not being free-thinkers. The funny thing is that after living here, I can say the same thing about Americans, which was displayed worldwide for everyone to see during the presidential election.”
Craig Trygstad said, “In cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin or Chongqing, there is an energy and work ethic that is hard to miss. I sometimes felt like that energy – which you see in small furniture factories, in tailor shops and felt in bustling markets – is how you define capitalism. And that is when I would forget that we were in a Communist country.”
(This 4-part series is the outgrowth of a week-long African American Media Leaders Mission to China sponsored by the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster a better understanding between the people of China and the United States. Neither the foundation nor government officials in China had any imput in these stories or saw them prior to publication. The 7-member U.S. media delegation was led by Cloves Campbell, Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant and chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The trip included visits to Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.)
Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 13:32
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