80% of Detroit’s Black Business Owners Feel Left Out of the City’s Revitalization Efforts

A survey of 100 Black business owners in Detroit has produced alarming results, according to an article written in DBusiness Magazine by Dr. Ken L. Harris, the 12th national president and CEO of the National Business League (NBL) in Detroit. The National Business League was founded in 1900 by Booker T. Washington to promote the interests of Black-owned businesses. The organization has three regional chapters in Detroit, Los Angeles and Atlanta and its headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

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The Black Business Owner Economic Confidence survey engaged Black Detroit-based business owners working in a multitude of industries about their feelings toward economic growth and development opportunities within the city. The survey determined that 80% of the business owners felt alienated from the current resurgence and revitalization of the city’s now-booming economy. The business leaders felt they weren’t being included in public and private sector opportunities.

Data was gathered over several months by the Detroit Coalition for Economic Inclusion (DCEI), an initiative brought forth by the national office of the NBL.

*Listen to Dr. Ken L. Harris’ interview with WWJ-950 below*

Dr. Harris weighed in on the shocking findings penned in his article stating, “Numbers don’t lie; data and facts matter. Survey results show we have some serious work to do removing barriers to economic equity and inclusion in Detroit and the region and throughout the state.”

“The response is alarming,” he continued. “Some 67.8% percent of the owners surveyed said they do no feel included and able to fully participate in the economic growth happening in the city of Detroit.”

Considering that Detroit has an 82% Black population, according to data from World Population Review, the thought of Black business leaders feeling left out of their own city’s revitalization seems unfathomable.

These same business owners also feel disenchanted with Governor Gretchen Whitmer regarding broken promises she made during her campaign for the highest position in the state, according to the Metro Times. 

She implemented tax structures that were favorable to the wealthy and corporations, completely disregarding business owners in tax-thirsty urban communities like Detroit.

Those issues aside, Governor Whitmer reportedly signed legislation in January 2019 which supports and helps economically-disadvantaged smaller businesses. Executive Directive No. 2019-8 spells out timelines and numbers of reported assistance. 

Hopefully, now that the concerns are in the open; Black business owners in Detroit will be able to reap the financial benefits of the city’s economic resurgence. That would be a win for everyone.


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