More Investment In Downtown Detroit: Detroit Marriott At The Renaissance Center Announces A $30 Million Renovation
Category: Business - Original Written by Rian Barnhill
More change and investment is coming to Detroit’s riverfront as the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center announced that it will begin a $30 million renovation project in February 2014, transforming 1,329 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Detroit Marriott is one of the tallest hotels in the western hemisphere and its massive makeover will take about a year to complete. Guest room renovations will start in February 2014 and are expected to take about one year to complete. Meeting room remodeling will begin in spring 2014 and conclude in fall 2014. The 70-floor hotel will remain open throughout the project with a few floors undergoing reconstruction at a time.
“We’re energized by the current revival of Detroit and excited to be a big part of it by making a $30 million investment in a landmark property that welcomes visitors from around the globe to our amazing city,” said Shonda Johnson, area general manager of the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. “Like Detroit, we’re undergoing our own rebirth of an original icon.”
Given Marriott’s commitment to Detroit, the corporate design team created a one-of-a-kind look specifically for the Detroit Marriott. The designers immersed themselves in the fabric of the region and Detroit to incorporate the city’s vibe and personality into the new, comfortably modern décor theme. The color palate is neutrals and greys with teal accents, providing the perfect backdrop to stunning photography of Detroit architectural landmarks that will adorn the walls.
The new meeting rooms will feature the colors of a Michigan beach at sunset — mauve, taupe, purple and brown. Renovations include an extensive remodeling of the ballroom and exhibit hall space to allow greater functionality of the meeting space.
The Detroit Marriott’s massive makeover is part of Marriott Hotels’ current brand transformation to reflect the lifestyle of the next generation of travelers who seamlessly blend work and play in a mobile and global world. The iconic brand is reasserting its position as an industry innovator through a new multi-year global marketing campaign call “Travel Brilliantly” to amplify its dedication to leading the future of travel. The campaign includes TV, digital and mobile advertising, a new brand look and logo, enhanced social media platforms, and, a new website — www.travelbrilliantly.com — revealing innovations under development, as well as a co-creation platform to solicit user-generated ideas.
As part of the overall brand transformation, Detroit Marriott guests will enjoy many new amenities and technological innovations. The enhanced amenity package includes a new line of personal care items, such as soaps and shampoos, as well as new bedding and linens.
In recognition of its increasingly connected mobile guests, Marriott Hotels is now rolling out mobile check-in at 325 Marriott-brand properties in the U.S. and Canada, including the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. With the Marriott Mobile App, Marriott Rewards members can check in after 4:00 p.m. the day before their arrival and receive an automatic notification when their room is ready. Members simply walk up to the expedited mobile check-in desk to pick-up their pre-programmed key card. More information about mobile check-in can be found at http://travel-brilliantly.marriott.com/our-innovations/check-in-app.
As the industry leader in hosting meetings, Marriott is introducing new technology designed for the mobile worker including Workspring at Marriott, Red Coat Direct and Workspace on Demand.
The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is located on the riverfront in the heart of downtown Detroit. The hotel’s guest rooms offer some of the most spectacular views in all for Detroit with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city skyline, the Detroit River and Canada. The property has 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to accommodate up to 2,200 guests. The hotel is within the General Motors Renaissance Center complex, 25 minutes from Detroit Metro Airport and five minutes from Windsor, Ontario.
For more information or reservations, call Marriott at 1-800-352-0831, or visit
Last Updated on Thursday, 29 August 2013 09:48
Detroit’s historic Livernois Avenue of Fashion gets a makeover with REVOLVE Detroit’s ‘Art + Retail on the Ave’ winners
Category: Business - Original Written by Rian J. Barnhill
The Thrifty Broads of THRIFT on the Ave., TaNisha D. Prater (left) Tisha Prater.
More than 20 artists from as close as the local neighborhood to as far away as England have been selected to participate in REVOLVE Detroit’s “Art + Retail on the Ave” program to revitalize Detroit’s historic Livernois Avenue of Fashion into a premier shopping and cultural destination. The artists will work alongside twelve Detroit–area retailers who were selected to open new permanent and pop-up businesses on Livernois Avenue.
The new art installations and businesses will debut Friday, September 20, when Livernois Avenue hosts the Detroit Design Festival.
REVOLVE Detroit issued a call for entries for artists and retailers in June and received nearly 100 proposals. Winners were selected based on interviews, feedback from the community, and expert reviews from a panel of 28 Detroit leaders in art, business, local universities and community organizations.
“We received a huge response from artists, and proposals came in from countries like France, Austria and Romania, as well as cities here in the United States, including New Orleans, Baltimore, New York and more,” said Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE program manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
“We received many strong proposals from both pop-up and permanent businesses based in Detroit. Some of the strongest proposals were from residents right here in the community. All of the entries were excellent, making the selection a difficult but exhilarating process.”
The temporary and permanent art installations will include a variety of media, such as painted murals, projections of “living” paintings in ink and oil, metalsmithing, and photography.
Michael Owen, a contemporary painter from Baltimore, Md., will be painting a mural on the wall of Jo’s Gallery on Livernois that honors the legacies of African American musicians from Detroit.
“I’m honored that my proposal and the quality of my work led the committee to believe I’m the right candidate for this project. My plan is to talk with the galley owner and others in the community to hear who they feel should be on the mural,” Owen said.
Native Detroiter Mandisa Smith and her business partner Najma Wilson will open Detroit Fiber Works, a cooperative of artists who work in a variety of fiber techniques and offer classes as well as sell their work, with a focus on community service.
“I grew up in the neighborhood. My parents both shopped on Livernois, and one of my favorite pastimes was walking up and down the street, looking in the windows. Najma and I remember how wonderful Livernois used to be, and we really want to be a part of the transformation. We know it’s going to be great,” Smith said.
The permanent and pop-up businesses will include streetwear, women’s fashions, books and gifts, specialty bakery, coffee shop and more.
Katrina Studvent, who with her husband Donald owns 1917 American Bistro on Livernois, will be opening Social Ice Cream Bar.
“It will be a social gathering place for a play date, a first date or a meet-up. Our goal is to engage the community to get out of their house and meet for a cone and conversation. The families in the neighborhood work so hard, and we want to offer a space they can walk to and enjoy being with their friends and family,” Studvent said.
Art + Retail on the Ave Winners:
• Regal Cafe - Detroit, MI
A coffee shop that provides a connective space for students and neighbors and a venue for arts and culture
• Local Social Ice Cream + Good Cakes and Bakes - Detroit
Two complimentary businesses building a neighborhood gathering space for ice cream, treats, snacks, drinks and social events on the Ave.
• Renaissance - Detroit
A high-end streetwear shop representing designer sneakers, hip-hop fashion, Japanese streetwear, and modern haute couture
• Art in Motion - Detroit
A ceramic studio where the community can participate in workshops, attend classes, gain technical skills, enjoy private lessons and work in an open studio setting
• Thrift on the Ave. - Detroit
Name-brand, mid and high-end women’s fashions that accommodate all body styles and shapes on any budget, curated by social media darlings, the Thrifty Broads
• Fresh Food Co-op - Detroit
A community of food entrepreneurs committed to making the possibility of good food in Detroit a sustainable reality. Participants include Batata Shop, Beautiful Soup, Fresh Corner Cafe, and Treats by Angelique
• H2BT - Detroit
An online radio station and boutique clothing retailer for emerging musicians
• Pages on Livernois - Detroit
A collection of books and gifts curated specifically for the neighborhood
• Fill-Anthropy - New York, NY
A temporary, non-profit bar whose profits go back into projects that benefit the community
• Detroit Fiber Works Creative Center - Detroit
A space where community members can see fiber artists at work, purchase fiber art by local Detroit textile artists, and attend classes and/or workshops in various fiber craft techniques
• Love Travels Imports - Detroit
Fair trade, handmade goods in a variety of colors and themes, sustainably created by artisans from around the world
• True Indulgence - Detroit
A specialty bakery featuring bite-sized desserts and decorated cakes
• Michael Owen - Baltimore, MD
Murals that honor the legacies of African American musicians from Detroit
• Vaughn Taormina - Detroit
A mural that captures the spirit of the Detroit landscape and engages viewers in a dialogue about the city as a muse
• Walter A. Bailey, The Millenium Project- Detroit, MI
Innovations in acrylic arts
• Pam Tietze - New York, NY
Outdoor installation of viewfinders that use ‘h0les’ crystal prisms for a transformative, sensory experience.
• Thomas Humery - Paris, France
A photographic series that captures members of the community through an international lens
• Harrison Richards Bartlett III 1/2, Delaney Martin, Taylor Lee Shepherd, Margot Couture, Arielle De Pinto, Artem Voevodin, and the Treasure Nest present Dacha - Detroit
An art installation and performance space constructed using locally-sourced, recycled and found materials
• Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic - London and New York
Black As Ink: projections of “living” paintings in ink and oil that explore the visual dynamism of the substance which fueled Detroit’s history
• Carrie Walker, Ghost Jungle - Detroit
An art installation composed of layers of light and paper that will take the form of plants, vines, and small trees, to form a dense and colorless jungle of surfaces on which light can play
• Jessica Janda and Joshua Smith - Detroit
Graphic design and identity development for businesses selected to participate in the Avenue of Fashion program
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 10:25
Category: Business - Original Written by Donald James
W. Bernard White, founder and president of White Construction, refuses to be outworked or outperformed by competitors in his industry. Since the inception of his Detroit-based company on July 31, 1989, White has led one of the region’s most progressive organizations. The company takes on projects in Detroit, but has left its construction fingerprints on Saginaw, Flint, Battle Creek and many suburban cities. In recognition of its status, Black Enterprise magazine continues to include White Construction on the publication’s list of Top 100 Black Businesses in America.
With a specialization in pre-construction services, construction management, general contracting, and design build, White Construction stays true to its motto: “Constructing your vision…since 1989.”
“For me, it’s always about working much harder than my counterparts and also trying to incorporate some smarts as I get better,” said White. “One of the major keys to my success is that I’m strictly organized in everything that I do, both in my professional life, as well as in my personal life. I feel that I do that a little better than most people in my industry.”
White Construction’s list of projects is long and impressive. A partial listing of metro Detroit projects includes Campus Martius Park, the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center’s 13th Floor Auditorium, Comerica Park, Detroit Port Authority, Detroit Lions Training Facility, Detroit Zoo, MGM Grand Casino, Youthville, Northwest Airlines Midfield Terminal, Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, and the new Cooley and Mumford high schools, as well as several construction ventures at Wayne State University, including the David Adamany Undergraduate Library.
Looking to the future, White and his company are preparing to tackle the new M-1 Rail project that will put light-rail service on Woodward Avenue. It will run from downtown to the Midtown area of the city. White Construction, which will serve as a main subcontractor to the managing construction company of Stacy and Witbeck, will build approximately 21 station stops along the Woodward corridor. “I’m really excited about the M-1 Rail project,” said White. “It’s going reignite Detroit’s progress and help the city move into the future. It’s also going to ignite businesses along the Woodward corridor. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited for the city of Detroit and for White Construction.”
White said, hopefully, the M-1 Rail groundbreaking will begin soon, and that the entire project should be completed in the spring of 2015. As with all projects, White Construction, according to White, will give its very best to meet and exceed all expectations of the M-1 Rail project. giving his very best in everything was how he was raised.
Born in Detroit, White, his brother and two sisters were raised by a single mother on the city’s west side where the children learned the value of hard work and the discipline needed to reach their goals in life. He fondly recalled how his grandmother, Rosa Smith, played a key role in shaping his young life. “She was a great inspiration to me as an adolescent,” White recalled. “She would make breakfast every morning before I went to school, tell me about her life in the South when she was growing up, and really encourage me to get the best education possible. My grandmother was definitely a big, big inspiration and was an instrumental part of the success that I’ve enjoyed professionally.”
Propelled by his grandmother’s constant words of encouragement and inspiration, White graduated from Chadsey High School and entered Lawrence Technological University, where in 1980, he earned a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. He graduated cum laude. Subsequently, he began working for a well-known construction management firm in the area where he honed his skills for nine years. In 1989, he stepped out on faith when he started White Construction.
White credits the late Mayor Coleman A. Young and his administration, as well as other administrations for the support given to help Black-owned businesses, such as his, in Detroit. White notes that many Black-owned firms were able “to grow and flourish” with the support received from the city and community.”
To give back to the city that has given him so much, White makes time to talk with young African-American boys and young men in Detroit Public Schools about making good life and career choices. “I love to offer myself as an example,” said White, the father of three grown children and grandfather of two grandchildren. “I came from a single-parent home and through the Detroit Public Schools. I lived in Detroit’s inner city, just like many of the young men I talk to. I offer them an alternative to just pursuing sports and rapping. I suggest to them that when they make education a priority, they will do well. I tell them that they can become an engineer, attorney, doctor, or whatever they want if they work hard and stay disciplined.”
Like many Detroit business owners, White is keeping an eyes on the series of events that are impacting the city, inclusive of its bankruptcy status. “I’m not sure about the full impact the bankruptcy will have as this is virgin ground for a large American city,” said White. “I think some city-funded projects or partly city-funded projects may be stalled or, maybe not started at all until this bankruptcy has run its course. I can only hope that this process is completed expeditiously so that the city of Detroit can begin its renewal process. There’s going to be some pain, but hopefully it won’t last very long.”
Whatever the future brings to Detroit, it’s a safe bet that White Construction will prosper, as White guides the company with the same optimism and confidence that he displayed 24 years ago, when he and his company stepped into uncharted waters as a new organization.
“We have an outstanding track record in Detroit and throughout the Southeast region,” he said. “We feel there will be opportunities for us to continue to do business in the city. We stand ready!”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 10:31
Category: Business - Original Written by Roz Edward
The making of a man like entrepreneur extraordinaire Walt Douglas like Detroit businessman/activist Walt Douglas is laden with extremes. From his humble roots in Hamlet, N.C., to his meteoric rise chairman of Avis Ford and later president of New Detroit Inc., Douglas’ journey from his small town beginnings to becoming an integral force in Detroit’s political and economic development is told in his just released autobiography , The Activist Entrepreneur: What I Learned About Business at the Urban Coalition And My Proven Keys to Personal and Career Success.
On Tuesday, Aug. 6 Douglas regaled a captivated audience with one fascinating account after another of his business and personal accomplishments during a much anticipated book signing at the Charles Wight Museum of African American History. Douglas discussed his and his family’s extraordinary commitment to education and personal development, sharing a poignant but all too familiar story regarding the intellectual competencies and diminished expectations for African Americans in general. Recalling an admonition from a high school teacher who told Douglas’ parents “You need to find something for Walter to do because he is not college material. He will never make it in college,” he shared the incident with the kind of satisfaction one is privy to when defying the naysayers. And of course he was more determined than ever to prove the misguided educator wrong.
So after his ascension to distinguished achievement during a 20-year stint at the IRS, his crucial role in establishing and guiding the nation’s largest urban coalition, New Detroit Inc., and ultimately ownership of one of the automotive industry’s leading car dealerships, Avis Ford, Douglas was well versed in the business and political ins-and-outs of Detroit. Moreover, he was even better equipped because of those experiences to lead others in understanding the “big picture” and making their respective marks in pursuit of the American Dream.
But it his riveting account of terse and at times notorious negotiations with his infamous adversary Sid McNiece of Avis who later founded Avis Rent a Car, Douglas turned to his inner black man, an removed the gloves. After several particularly contentious comments from McNeice, Douglas writes:
“My true personality was now in full in play and I was no longer Mr.Nice Guy,” he admits. “… before I knew it I was standing over him … determined that my next move was going to be physical. ‘Sid, I’m sick of you.’ Adding a few choice four-letter words for full effect as I told him how pathetic his bullying tactics were. I finished my remarks by inviting him to stand so I could know him on his ass. He did not move, but I knew I had frightened him. My actions changed his demeanor.” In a predictable turn-o- events, things went more smoothly at the closing two days later.
But the take away from the saga of the Avis Ford negotiation and eventual acquisition is more a lesson in practicing what you preach for Douglas who for those 8 years he was with New Detroit and beyond, advised countless budding entrepreneurs to stay the course. His conviction that African Americans with the skills, the experience and the means to own businesses and create jobs should, was reaffirmed and the Brink Award-winning auto dealer’s message had been validated.
Douglas also embarked on some discussion about the impact of the 1967 Detroit Riots on his career and family, calling it instead the “Detroit Rebellion” and explaining to readers and audience members that the turmoil of the time was more a chaotic and ferocious release of frustration and pinned up emotion over the second-class treatment of black Detroiters. And here in the post Great Recession era, Douglas finds himself even more rooted in his pledge to extend his extensive business knowledge to other entrepreneurs and to share valuable lessons about strategic partnerships that bridge boundaries and produce profound change.
What many readers may find most remarkable about this story though of social ideals and business savvy is how intimately Douglas’ family has been involved in every step of his ground breaking journey. With two of his sons working in the business at Avis Ford, a daughter who is always close at hand, and his wife Retha at his side for 56 years, Douglas has devised a formula for continued personal enrichment of the sort that reshapes our world and enhances our lives.
When asked why a man who sells cars is writing a book, Douglas responds, “I have a story to tell … and I think anybody who picks up the book could be inspired by stories of some of the challenges I have had to overcome.”
Douglas’ long-time and close personal friend Edsel Ford may have put it best, “Now, as the economy reshaped our local and national landscape, I must say that Walter Douglas could not have chosen a more relevant time to share his life story. It testifies to the power of the entrepreneurial spirit when backed by hard work, discipline and faith.”
For more on The Activist Entrepreneur: What I Learned About Business at the Urban Coalition And My Proven Keys to Personal and Career Success please visit www.WaltDouglasonline.com
Last Updated on Monday, 12 August 2013 15:40
Category: Business - Original Written by Amber Bogins
In an unexpected development, Don Butler, Vice President of Global Cadillac Strategic Development, has announced that he is retiring from his post at General Motors.
Butler had just been promoted to the post in April from Cadillac's U.S. Vice President of Marketing. During his tenure, the GM luxury brand saw some of its greatest growth in sales in years. Under Butler's tenure, the Carol H. Williams Advertising agency returned to GM following a purge by the automaker's former executives of all African-American ad agency assignments.
Butler's departure creates a void for the brand with black consumers, as he had become the African-American face for the Cadillac line. At the recent American Black Film Festival, Cadillac sponsored a conversation with Butler, filmmaker Spike Lee and ABFF founder Jeff Friday. At the session Butler recounted to the audience how African-Americans saved Cadillac during the Great Depression.
"During the Depression in the 1930s the economy was in really bad shape. They had actually considered shutting down the brand. There was a service engineer -- he was German -- an he asked to make a presentation before the GM board of directors. He said 'I have an idea on how I think we can save Cadillac.'
"What (the service director/engineer) had noticed was that black men were bringing in their Cadillacs. Now, normally, he thought that black men were bringing in their (white) owners' Cadillacs. But, no, they owned these vehicles and they were brining them in for service. He was confused because at the time, unfortunately, (GM) was not selling Cadillacs to black Americans. It was forbidden to sell a Cadillac to African Americans walking into the showrooms.
"What he detected were that African Americans, who had accumulate the means, were hiring white men to go buy Cadillacs for them. I invite you to "Google" this, to look it up. What he essentially said is that we (GM) need to begin to market directly to African Americans and tell them that we are open for business for Cadillacs. So, in a sense, that was the first diversity marketing, if you want to look at it that way.
"Black Americans helped keep Cadillac alive. We absolutely did. And so that has a special sense, special meaning for me. The roots of that connection is very, very deep"
Butler's history with GM is distinguished by a number of accomplishments. He served as Vice President, Planning and Business Development from 2001 to 2005, when he established alliances with key business partners such as Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm, led the creation and development of new services such as Turn-by-Turn Navigation and OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics and developed the strategy which led to GM adopting OnStar as standard equipment in North American vehicles.
In 2005, Butler was appointed Chairman and Managing Director, General Motors Egypt where he led the achievement of all time sales records in that country. Butler returned to the U.S. in 2007 where he was named Executive Director, Chevrolet Truck Marketing, guiding the Chevrolet truck brands through a critical time of restructuring in the U.S. market.
Last Updated on Monday, 05 August 2013 15:19
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