Minority-owned businesses are left out of Detroit's rebuilding. Two women want to change that

As the construction booms continues in Detroit, the call is out to use more Detroit-based companies to get the work done. 

"What we see is our 80 percent black city is being rebuilt by 90 percent of others that don't look like the demographic in the city. We would like to see that disparity and that gap closed," said Alisha M. Moss.

Moss is the CEO of VM3 Construction and founder/president of the Real Estate Association of Developers. She's here to tell developers that construction firms like hers and Tarolyn Buckles', CEO of Detroit-based civil engineering firm Onyx Enterprise, are very much open for business. 

Buckles is also the president of the National Association of Black Women in Construction. Many projects are using outside firms while minority businesses wait for the phone to ring.  

"We've got folks in every category who are licensed and bonded and ready to go but people don't think about those categories. They're always thinking well there are no black operators on that crane but what about the fencing, signage on that project, we have a legacy historical black printing companies in the city and they're not being utilized," Moss said.

So they are coming forward today to make it clear: they're ready to work. So what do they want to tell the Illitches and Dan Gilbert's people right now?  

"You have qualified engineering firms and people that live in Detroit and work," Buckles said.

Together, Buckles and Moss are working with the Detroit Coalition for Economic Inclusion, a group founded by Detroit's leading black-owned businesses and associations who have a goal of increasing participation by minority owned businesses in the city's ongoing development boom. 

"We're telling you we are here. We want the fair opportunity to bed and showcase our capabilities," Moss said. 

Black businesses at the forefront give a clear message to young people in Detroit. 

"You can do it. It doesn't matter if you're part of the inner city, it doesn't matter your background or status. It means with hard work you can accomplish anything," Buckles said.