Mackinac Policy Conference – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Thu, 19 Apr 2018 01:42:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Meet Clyde’s, The Delicious Drive-In Burger Gateway To The Upper Peninsula Sun, 04 Jun 2017 21:49:56 +0000 Crossing the bridge nicknamed the Mighty Mac, you can be rest assured that in the Upper Peninsula that if you want a good burger you will not have to settle for a McDonald’s Big Mac.

That’s because just west of the bridge you’ll find a magically retro place that harkens to another time.

That place is Clyde’s.

The one we visited after three days of the Mackinac Policy Conference, according to lore, is the third Clyde’s.

The mini-chain was founded in 1949 by a Clyde – Clyde Van Dusen. The one we visited in St. Ignace is, apparently, independent and built in 1971. There is one in Sault Ste. Marie and Manistique, as well.

And although this restaurant isn’t located in Metro Detroit, it definitely feels like a very Michigan thing.

The first thing of note is that this is a drive-in. Sure, there’s a counter inside and a small porch, but on a nice day, why would you do that to yourself?

Roll down the windows, open the sun roof if you have one and enjoy a bit of Americana.

Especially when they give you the tray that rests on the edge of your window.

Now the food is fried and divine. The burger is juicy and fresh. These are the kinds of places like Shake Shack try to emulate.

The onion rings were tasty and on point.

The fried cauliflower was an attempt at experimentation. I’m under no illusions that this was healthy, but hey, it was a vegetable! Two vegetables in one meal!

The prices here are beyond reasonable and it does brisk business. The car side service was friendly and fast.

It’s important to remember that if you swing through this place, it’s cash only.

That small inconvenience also reminded me a bit of home as in Detroit there are still quite a few bars that work on a cash-only basis. But so worth it.

And so is Clyde’s.

You can find Clyde’s at 3 US Highway 2 W, St. Ignace, MI 49781.

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Detroit’s Queen Of Fashion Retail Expands Her Domain With Yama Thu, 01 Jun 2017 18:42:14 +0000 When you mention Detroit and retail, one name quickly comes to mind: Rachel Lutz, the proprietress of two of the city’s most influential stores: The Peacock Room and Frida.

Lutz stole the show (again) this week at the Mackinac Policy Conference when she made news in announcing the opening of her third retail location.

Lutz, who is attending the conference on Mackinac Island, is bringing her version of Modernism in terms of clothing, accessories and more with Yama. It will find a home in the iconic Fisher Building. She’s also hosting a pop-up shop at Mission Point to showcase her ideas and products.

Yama is a tribute to Minoru Yamasaki, whose influence is found across Detroit, the United States and the world. Yama, his nickname, is best known as the architect of the World Trade Center in New York (Detroit’s One Woodward or Consolidated Gas Building was his original model for that design) as well as for memorable buildings including Wayne State University’s dramatically beautiful McGregor Memorial Conference Center.

Yamasaki was known for his credo and desire to create “serenity, surprise and delight.” And it’s not too much of a stretch to say that Lutz does the same. She gave an update on her work, her inspirations and her hopes for the future in an interview.

Q: Why add to your retail empire at this time?

A: I had no plans for physical expansion. But the Fisher Building approached me about a month ago, and I’ve been keeping an eye on New Center- there’s a fresh energy there. The developers of The Platform really have a vision for the Fisher Building and the neighborhood, and I want to help them achieve it.

Q: Why Yama?

A: The Peacock Room is a girly dress-up closet, while my sister store Frida is more casual and bohemian. Yama is for a woman who favors clean, simple lines but still has an appreciation for interesting detail. As a lover of architecture and Detroit history, I named the store after Minoru Yamasaki, my favorite architect. He left a large footprint in Detroit.

Q: Where do you feel Detroit retail is compared to when you opened the Peacock Room?

Rachel Lutz

A: The Detroit retail market was severely underserved when I opened more than five years ago. It’s still underserved, but Detroiters now have more options. It’s fantastic that we have more luxury goods than ever during my lifetime! But it’s so important to remember that the city needs a mix of merchandise. Luxury and basic goods, big-box and independent, in the downtown core and in the neighborhoods.

Q: Where do you see yourself and Detroit in five more years?

A: I can barely keep up with Detroit now, so I cannot imagine what it will be like five years down the road. I just hope that my customers will continue to support me so that I can continue to be a part of it.

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5 Secrets To Making Awesome Things Happen With Jason Hall Of Slow Roll Thu, 01 Jun 2017 17:46:35 +0000 The first thing you need to know about Jason Hall is that he is a realistic optimist. He knows there is negativity in the world – he just chooses to grab it, flip it upside down and turn it into something he can use to improve himself, improve his work and, ultimately, improve the city that he loves.

Hall is a pizza lover, a Detroiter, a bike rider and the creator of Slow Roll, which he describes as “a unique nonprofit that brings together thousands of people from all over the region during 25 weekly bike rides a year.” During those rides, Hall says, people learn more about Detroit and each other.

“When it comes to things that I stand behind, that was what pushed this, was my passion to see how far we could take it. To say, ‘It’s not just a bike ride, but how can we affect Detroit? How can we make change? How can we bring people together?’ Once I attached to that, that was it,” Hall says.

In 2016, Slow Roll grew to more than 12,000 registered riders and that number continues to increase. In 2017, Slow Roll is focusing on continuing to educate people about Detroit, engage riders with local businesses and charities, and create the cohesive and peaceful community everyone wants.

As Hall puts it, “We believe that Slow Roll is transforming Detroit through exercise, education, experiences and community.”

Here are the top five life lessons Hall shared during his stay on Mackinac Island as part of the Mackinac Policy Conference, where he took a group of cyclists on a ride around this iconic rock.

1. Learn As You Do It

Jason Hall on Mackinac Island

“I think if there’s anything that you want to do, I’m a big fan of doing it and learning as you do it. Me personally, if I’d have stopped and thought, “Okay, let me learn how to get a permit for Slow Roll, and let me learn how to get insurance. And let me learn how to …” That would have put me five years behind the eight ball. For us, it was, “Let’s just do it and then figure out how to do it.” And that’s what I tell people. Learn on the job. I tell you, 100% of what I am now is from my evolution of this ride. I didn’t go to school for business or anything.”

2. Learn From It

“When I’m in the city county building filling out permits all day, I cherish that time because I’m learning. I’m in this place that I’ve never been before. I would just say anything that you want to do, do it.”

3. Don’t Ask Permission

Photo via Facebook

“If you know the history of Slow Roll, I’m a big fan of, ‘It’s better to apologize than ask for permission.’ … Never ask anybody who’s supposedly already done it. I speak at schools all the time and I tell kids, ‘Just do it, man. If you want to start a bike program, write your friends. Get your friends together and then talk to your parents about it. Bring them the plan cooked.’ That’s what I always say. Don’t bring me the ingredients, cook it and bring it up. And that’s what I do.”

4. Don’t Trust Authority

“A couple of mistakes I made at the beginning is I said, “Well, I don’t know how to run a bike ride. Let me ask somebody who ran bike rides.” But if they ran bike rides and they don’t run bike rides anymore, why would I get advice from them? Like I said, I just sort of do it. I don’t like to ask people, and they’re tainted. A lot of times if you ask somebody, you say, “Hey, what’s it like to run a bike ride?” They’re not gonna tell you their positive experiences until they tell you their negatives first. And they’re gonna turn you off.”

5. Focus On Your Goal

“I’m from Detroit, man. I come from a family of union workers and we’ve always dealt with adversity and things of that nature. That’s nothing new to me. I’ve always told myself, ‘You cannot let yourself live in that space of negativity.’ I don’t even go there.

When people come at me with negativity, I immediately kill them with kindness, because I won’t let you take me out of my space of, ‘I’m alive. The sun is out. I run a bike ride for a living.’ As down as I could get, that’s all I have to do is think about that. I go, ‘Tomorrow, I get to ride my bike with 5,000 people and even if I don’t ride with those 5,000, I’m gonna walk out a my door and see 100 people that ride Slow Roll.’ … And then, where Detroit is at right now, man, how can you not be? I say that to people all the time, ‘If you walk out the door and you don’t look around at the Red Wing Stadium and think about all the concerts that are coming and the potential for money that you could make and your friends, that’s crazy. You’re a robot if you can’t be happy on a daily basis in the city.’”

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City Of Detroit Sees The Lowest Unemployment Rate In 16 Years Thu, 01 Jun 2017 15:53:06 +0000 Jobs are one of the most important issues when it comes to Detroit’s recovery, and it has been a topic up here at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

The city of Detroit in April had the lowest unemployment rate since May of 2001, according preliminary information shared by the Mayor’s office from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The graph above tracks the year over year unemployment rate in April.

The city’s rate of 8.4 percent is higher than the rest of Michigan at 4.7 percent, and the Detroit regional rate at 4 percent as we reported yesterday, but it’s significant progress.

The rate has dropped from 17.6 percent since Duggan took office at the beginning of 2014.

In January of 2010 during the Great Recession, city unemployment hit depression-era levels at 27 percent.

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Mike Duggan Speaks Truth To Power About Detroit’s Divided History Wed, 31 May 2017 21:49:44 +0000 Finally.

Across Metro Detroit, we usually do a terrible job of acknowledging our past and how those decisions impact our region today.

But in an energetic speech in a venue where a message about race is uncomfortable for some, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan talked about the systematically racist policies that shaped our region today and finished with a standing ovation.

The TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) version is thanks to a practice called redlining if you were white after World War II, you could get home loans to buy or improve your home. But if you were a person of color, well, nope. The Federal government subsidized and bankrolled the suburbs while denying the same opportunity to African Americans, Hispanics, and other people of color.

We dived into the physical manifestation of it here on our site last year, a wall by 8 Mile. 

It’s an uncomfortable truth about our past. We need to acknowledge it to push forward as a region. There are reasons why things happened the way they did, and they’re not pretty.

Historically, development hasn’t been a level playing field and it’s completely justified for people to question and push for inclusion.

But Duggan putting that story out there has a power that other sources simply do not.

He then looked to the future, talking about eight policies for development:

There have been examples of success in the past – such as River Crest – that he called out in his speech, as well as efforts in the Fitzgerald neighborhood.

Duggan has outlined a tall order to execute, and there are a lot of potential pitfalls. But who would have thought a few years ago the city budget would have a surplus, and home sale prices would be up by more than 50 percent in more than half of the city?

It’s refreshing to be talking about what the right pace of improvement is instead of whether or not it will ever happen. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Check out the video below.

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When Fighting Back Against Detroit’s Poverty, You Need An Education To Survive Wed, 31 May 2017 16:28:25 +0000 As Khali Sweeney travels to represent his beloved Downtown Boxing Gym, one thing always remains on his mind: That education is a keystone to moving Detroit forward.

Actually, it’s the only thing Sweeney thinks about as he and Downtown Boxing Gym Executive Director Jessica Hauser move through the crowds on Mackinac Island. They’re here to listen to the conversations about Detroit schools, to meet new Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti and to spread the work about their non-profit boxing gym.

If he had one message to share at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Sweeney said he would shout it from the rooftop of the Grand Hotel: Detroit needs to invest deeply in education and its children.

“Education is the most important thing in our community right now. If we don’t educate our community, they’ll fall behind. They’ll get left out. They can’t take a part in a new Detroit or a new Michigan if they’re not educated,” Sweeney said.

“If you look at statistics, and you see the successful communities, it will say things like: Two people in the household hold a degree or have graduated from high school. But if you look at our zip code, few people hold a degree. Few people have graduated from school; only 30 percent the last time I looked have graduated from high school. People with education have access to better jobs. They’re in a financial better situation. Without an education, you’re not going to survive.”

Photo via Downtown Boxing Gym

This is the first whirlwind experience at Mackinac Policy Conference for Hauser and Sweeney, Founder and CEO of the Downtown Boxing Gym, a free after-school academic and athletic program for Detroit students ages 8 through 18. Since 2007, Sweeney has worked with hundreds of students who want to expand their minds as well as their muscles.

At the Downtown Boxing Gym, the rules are books before boxing. There are tutors, mentors and volunteers who work with the students each day. Over the last 10 years, 100 percent of participating students have graduated from high school.

The program includes computers, fiber optic training, a music studio, a learning kitchen for culinary classes, a library, tutoring and testing in all major subjects, college and career readiness and a variety of enrichment programs in addition to boxing and athletics.

Moreover, there is a huge waiting list to get into the program. And to Sweeney and Hauser, that means the need for quality education, quality after-school programs and quality investment in educational institutions has never been greater.

“I was inspired with what (Dr. Vitti) was talking about,” Hauser said. “Actually, everything he said is what Khali has implemented into the program. It’s reinforcing that our model works and it’s what needs to happen to ensure the success of our kids.”

Sweeney said he was pleasantly surprised so many people were familiar with the Downtown Boxing Gym, its purpose and its program.

“That sends me back home with the message to keep doing what I’m doing because people are taking notice of it. There’s a need in our community – we have a waiting list of 800 kids. They want to be there. They want the support,” Sweeney said.

Ed. Note: If you’re looking for more with Khali Sweeney, he was a guest last year on our Daily Detroit Happy Hour podcast. Check it out here.

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Metro Detroit Unemployment Rate Drops To 4% Wed, 31 May 2017 15:27:41 +0000 Up here at the Mackinac Policy Conference, business and political leaders may cheer the news that new data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate for Metro Detroit dropped to 4 percent in April.

This is in line with the national trend, where non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates were lower in April than a year earlier in 322 of the 388 metropolitan areas.

The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn area saw a drop from 4.6 percent to 4 percent year over year from 2016 to 2017. The area includes the counties of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, St. Clair and Lapeer.

“It is encouraging to see Detroit moving forward, but there is so much more we need to do. Thousands of construction jobs are being created through the arena district and the Gordie Howe Bridge, and we need people with the skills to fill those jobs,” said Roger Curtis, Director of Michigan’s Department of Talent and Economic Development. “We’re working to build talent so employers want to locate and grow in Detroit and beyond, creating more and better jobs for Michiganders.”

The rate in March of 2017 was 5 percent.

Statewide, the good news continues. Michigan’s year over year unemployment rate in April dropped from from 4.5 percent to 3.7 percent. Ann Arbor has the lowest rate in the state at 2.2 percent.

The lowest unemployment in the nation in April was in Ames, Iowa, and Boulder, Colorado, at 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

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The Mackinac Policy Conference: Benefits, Bourbon, And B.S. Tue, 30 May 2017 21:45:18 +0000 As I’m now starting my fourth year on the island attending the Mackinac Policy Conference, I can tell you that most of the rumors you may have heard about this event are true.

1,700 or so leaders in various parts of metro Detroit’s business, political and nonprofit establishment have completed their annual migratory trip to the Grand Hotel, with the conference agenda officially starting tomorrow.

And without fail, the same annual criticisms are leveled by some, especially on the left, that it’s out of touch. Meanwhile, their fundraising arms simultaneously inundate attendees email boxes with pitches for pricey fundraisers.

There’s a mirror story, usually on the right of the political spectrum, where some espouse the virtues of the event as if this were a religious pilgrimage, all the while secretly wishing they could toss their admission badge into the lake and melt into a bar somewhere for a bit of non-business fun.

See, humans are complex. And usually, the things humans create are complex as well. They don’t fit well in a tweet. And so it is with this 37th iteration of this conference.

The Benefits:

You’re not going to get more movers and shakers in a small area than here. If you’re looking to advance a cause, throwing on a sport coat, hopping on a carriage and getting up to the Grand is your best bet to actually talk to decision-making people without navigating a maze of gatekeepers.

The topics here are fascinating to a policy nerd, and this is one of the few forums that the resources are actually invested in getting top-notch speakers and having some sort of dialog on issues we face.

A mentor of mine, Marge Sorge, taught me that many times the most important stories are the boring ones. She’s always been right, and it plays out here. There will be a lot of conversations that a reader who is used to the sports-like nature of most political coverage will find slow. But that’s the stuff that will impact us 10 or 25 years from now.

The Bourbon:

A side benefit of shoving everyone on a small rock in the middle of a lake isn’t necessarily the flow of bourbon (though, I do love a good Bulleit or Four Roses on the rocks) but the networking that happens and the connections made over said Bourbon.

That’s important. In this time of political division, the ability to come together over any issue – for any reason – is rare. We’re looking forward to getting a bunch of interviews, some that in years past turned out to be fabulously candid that just wouldn’t happen in Detroit.

The B.S.

“The magician and the politician have much in common: They both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing.” – Ben Okri

The B.S. (or, since there are only horses as transportation on this island, the H.S.) is going to be turned to 11 as people are gearing up for election season.

Here’s one example, but don’t take the skepticism I have for this example to mean that the other party isn’t shoveling the remnants out the back of the same horse.

It doesn’t seem that a part-time legislature would improve the lives of Michiganders much, but of course, the idea is expected to be put up there by a man who wants to take “Lieutenant” out of his “Lieutenant Governor” title, Brian Calley.

Term limits has been mostly a disaster. The reality is all the practical policy experience lays with the lobbyists and special interests (and so do the power cards) as everyone in office is facing a hard limit with how long they can do their job. Michigan has a legislature full of people looking toward their next career move.

Making a part-time legislature will probably make this worse. There are already a ton of real issues the full time legislature can’t seem to get to. And maybe this is a distraction move to attempt to slow calls for the end of gerrymandering, where districts are drawn in crazy shapes to benefit the party in power.

Although the idea of smaller government is laudable, in the modern world in a state this large the people probably need full time representatives as some sort of balance to special interests that, as it says on the label, are wholly interested in their special cause.

There is going to be a lot of good that happens up here. And there also will be a lot that seems crazy or out of touch.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few days bring, and we’re looking forward to serving it to you straight.

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