Detroiters talk rift between downtown and neighborhoods

Former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's comments came off more like a warning, highlighting the dangers of not addressing what he and many others see as the widening rift in Detroit between downtown and the neighborhoods, rich and poor, white and black.

"It's critical to have diverse participation, particularly in this city that is still majority African American," Bing said.

But Bing says that is not happening. His remarks came during the Detroit Policy Conference at the Motor City Casino, where he said black Detroiters and businesses are not being included in the city's revival, major corporations are not supporting or investing in them and local media outlets lack diverse leadership.

Bing even seemed to take a dig at Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

"When I was in office, George Jackson ... had my support to do what was necessary for development in our city. I don't think that's the case today," he said.

Jackson is the former president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. Duggan declined to comment.

Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of Detroit's NAACP branch, said he did not hear Bing's remarks but the concerns the former mayor raised are far from uncommon.

"I do think we have an administration that is listening and that is making some inroads there," he said. "So I'm very glad that Mayor Bing, who is a friend of mine, is speaking up on those kind of concerns. It's a continuous growing thing. It's never enough, but it's better possibly in some area than it used to be but it's not as good as it can be."

He said he thinks everyone agrees that participation is key in the resurgence of the City of Detroit.

"I think we're working towards that and GM (wants) to invest in the community," he said.

The narrative surrounding Detroit's resurgence has been that of a tale of two cities - one for upwardly mobile young and white residents in downtown and midtown, and another for black residents in Detroit's neighborhoods.

City officials said much is being done to promote and include black businesses, including $20 million dollars in demolition contracts to minority owned companies, a million dollars in grants to Detroit minority businesses, and it's making sure the new hockey arena project hires at least half its workers from Detroit.


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