Roger Penske talks Presidential Medal of Freedom, Detroit's comeback

It's been an incredible few weeks for Detroit businessman and entrepreneur Roger Penske. 

"I had to go to a meeting and I couldn't tell anybody but then again he announced that I guess, he was with Trudeau," Penske said. "And so my phone started going off and I had to keep shutting it off because I couldn't tell anybody at that point."

Penske spoke about the phone call he got from President Donald Trump telling him he has been chosen to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

"It is something that you never dream of in your lifetime," he said. "I got the official letter in the last week and I'm looking forward to the date when I go to the White House and receive the medal. It is something as a little guy delivering newspapers in Cleveland Ohio, you never think you'll get this award." 

That kid from Cleveland is an adopted son of Detroit.  A Detroit that's changed thanks in part to Roger Penske, a longtime believer and supporter in the city, and who was one of the first to invest into public safety when the city's coffers were empty during 2009 

The private sector is key in any city's redevelopment and resurgence.  The Penske is quick to point out the architects of that resurgence - he includes the Ilitches, Karmanos, Dan Gilbert. 

"I had the chance to understand that back when Mayor Dave Bing was in office and we needed police cars, we needed EMS units and how the private sector got together. We got Gilbert, Ilitch, all these foundations, Karmanos when you think about the early days," he said. "These are the people that have made a difference."  

FOX 2: "You left out a very important name and that is Penske. What drives you?"

"Well, look, I'm a competitor number one," he said. "I want to do things right and I want to give back as an individual, my family wants to give back. Most important is to give people that work for me the opportunities to succeed - whether that's in a race car to win the Indy 500 or a guy selling a car for us at one of our dealerships or renting a truck at Penske truck leasing."

The next big challenges for the city are education and building job opportunities for all Detroiters.  He's committed $5 million to the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. He sees brighter days ahead.  
FOX 2: "Detroit in five years?"

"Detroit in five years is going to get better and better," he said. "You can see the investment. The one thing we have to work on, is education because I think that's the sticking point today.

"Transportation, we are working on and certainly the buildings and places for people to live and jobs. Think about the number of jobs that have been brought to the city of Detroit, not just people living there, but construction, this is all positive."