If the Michigan Chronicle’s Pancakes and Politics was a television show, then the season finale would have been ratings gold. The popular speaker’s forum hosted four of the most engaging and dynamic women on the Michigan stage. Crain’s Detroit publisher Mary Kramer, Skillman Foundation president and CEO Tonya Allen, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. president and CEO Suzanne Shank, and Inforum & Inforum president and CEO Terry Barclay took the stage Thursday morning at the Detroit Athletic Club to for some hard-hitting conversation regarding the contributions of women decision makers and Detroit’s business climate.
“[Women] just had this tremendous boost since Warren Buffet, just joined the group from the UK, and formed the [U.S.] Thirty Percent Club … and that’s a peer-to-peer approach to increase female representation in senior leadership,” Barclay told the crowd of more than 400.
“Michigan Matters” host and P&P moderator, Carol Cain noted that the panelists play key roles in the rebirth of Detroit and asked each to comment on the state of the city.
Tonya Allen: “I’m feeling very hopeful about the city of Detroit. In 2007 I said this has to be our Phoenix moment, because it can’t get any worse. Then I said it again in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011,” quipped Allen. “But when you think about the life cycle of cities, what Detroit is going through is not actually an anomaly. This has happened all over the world and when you look at that life cycle you see that we’re actually in the turn around, and I truly believe that in the next 30 years Detroit will be an extraordinarily prosperous place … If Detroit really wants to be a global city we have to stop acting so poor.”
Mary Kramer: “Politically and culturally we’re seeing some interesting changes, like the partnership between mayor Duggan and city council president Brenda Jones is remarkable. They are doing things together, one voice. … There is a lot of interest in Detroit now, as the city emerges from bankruptcy it will have one of the best balance sheets of any city in the United States of America. We have to get prepared for that. You can’t change the rules after you get the investment and then say, ‘No,no, no, we don’t want that.’ You don’t get to play it both ways.”
Suzanne Shank: “Being a finance person I know the road is going to be long and hard to build trust, nationally and in the investor community. A lot of people bought city obligations and a lot of them are going to take a hit. … But people are rooting for Detroit and I don’t go anywhere without being asked what’s going on in Detroit. So what we need to do is embrace our youth and embrace jobs for our youth. I’ve been running an internship program for about 10 years and we have wonderful kids in Detroit who can go on to do great things if we give them the opportunity.”
Tonya Allen added that the costs of internships to companies is only $2000 and interested business should contact the Skillman Foundation for more information.
This fourth Pancakes and Politics concluded the forum series.