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Detroit to The World: Don’t Count Us Out

Motown welcomes the B.E. Entrepreneurs Conference with grit, enthusiasm and faith in its own future

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B.E. Publisher Graves with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing

I arrived in Detroit yesterday for the 2009 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference curious about the psyche of the city. Battered by a crisis of faith in local government triggered by the scandal surrounding former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, as well as the economic devastation of the automotive industry that gave Motown its name, it is easy for us non-Detroiters to assume that the city is down for the count. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When Black Enterprise Publisher and Chairman Earl Graves Sr. and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. announced that we would be bringing the conference to Detroit, it gave many of us at B.E. pause. Then, Mr. G gave us the bottom line: Detroit has been there for Black Enterprise and black business, and we will stand with Detroit in its time of need. Judging from how Detroit received us during welcome receptions to kick-off the conference, that faith will be amply rewarded by the city, both during the conference and beyond.

I attended three events on this, the Entrepreneurs Conference’s opening day. First was a V.I.P. reception hosted by IBM, one of the sponsors of the conference.The focus was not on nostalgia for the past, or the present crisis, but on future opportunities. This was underscored by a review of IBM’s  A Smarter Planet Initiative, delivered by Folu Okunseinde, industry solutions architect for IBM’s Financial Services Solutions Group. Okunseinde, who holds MIT degrees in computer science and electrical engineering and a masters from the University of Texas in Austin (at only 28), held the attention of entrepreneurs eager for solutions as he reviewed the elements of an initiative focused on helping business to exploit the growing  interconnectivity of a dynamic business environment to improve infrastructure and efficiency via the sharing of data and information. It was a conversation about were business is going, not where it’s been, and the entrepreneurs in attendance were fully engaged.

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  • http://rioboutique.biz Mamie Smith

    It was refreshing to hear that even though Detroit may be down for the count, you have not counted us out.

    As a small business owner located in the heart of downtown Detroit(Compuware Complex), I have seen and lived the struggles of Detroit over the past seven years. While the rest of the nation experienced growth and rapid development,Detroit had entered a mild recession. Now we are going through a depression, but we are a strong, resilient people,who will emerge as a city with a greater vision, stronger constitution and the foundation for a bright future.

  • http://www.rainbowpush.org Glenda Gill

    I applaud Black Enterprise for choosing and supporting Detroit during this economic tsunami. The automotive industry has singlehandly helped to create the Black middle class in this country and assisted in many of us obtaining our college education. Detroiters are strong in character and will see their way through the automotive bankruptcies. It was great to see the out of towners and the next generation at the BE Conference eagerly seeking knowledge and building relationships. We need you BE as the pillar communicating about Black businesses

  • Pamela Reed

    Mr. Edmond

    I have emailed you before I know this blog is about Detroit but it does tie in to what I want to say. My question is when is President Obama going to help our community, oh I forgot he doesn’t want to discuss race, but we put this man in office with our 96% vote. Why do we always have to be patience? Now he is helping the immigrants. So again we have to go to the back of the bus?

    Mr.Edmond I don’t do the back of the bus, when will get our turn and if he does mention race especially black folk, he talk about self help and stop waiting for the government . Again we were hood wink, look like fools. And I know he can’t be the President for African American because that is the last thing he want to be and going to be. Mr. Edmond I hate to say but I tell the truth and it gets me in trouble sometimes. But I wish I would have kept my vote and not voted for him. As my grandma use to say tell the truth and “SAME THE DEVIL” And now he sending troops to the Mexican broader and he did that only because the President of Mexico put him on blast. We need troops in the “GHETTO” starting with Detroit . But what do I know?

    P.S. if you can respond to me at my personal email because after I email you I have trouble finding your response so my email is burnbox07@yahoo.com

    Thank You For Your Time
    Pamela Reed