The Michigan Chronicle’s Pancakes & Politics Speakers’ Forum is back with its stellar reputation as the region’s premier event for addressing hot-button issues impacting Detroiters and others living and working in Southeast Michigan, home to the majority of the state’s businesses, industries, and population.
The first of four Speakers’ Forums for 2023 kicks off with Forum I, “Big Projects – Big Impact.” The event will be held on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. at the Detroit Athletic Club, 241 Madison St. in downtown Detroit. Forum I is already “Sold Out!” Returning as the Forums’ longtime host and moderator is Dennis Archer Jr., Chairman & CEO of Sixteen42Ventures, the parent company of several businesses, including Ignition Media Group.
Platinum Sponsoring Partners for Forum I are Walker-Miller Energy Services, Signal Restoration Services, and DTE. The Broadcast Presenting Partner is GM, and the Overdrive Series Presenting Partner is Business Leaders for Michigan.
The first Forum will convene three panelists, engaging in robust discussions about the mega projects of their respective companies in the city and region and how the projects will heavily impact the revitalization of Detroit and its economy. The panelists are Kofi Bonner, CEO, Bedrock, LLC; Bud Denker, President, Penske Corporation; and Robert G. Riney, President & CEO, Henry Ford Health.
Bedrock is Detroit’s largest real-estate developer, with more than 100 properties across the city. In its portfolio of ongoing developments is Bedrock’s giant construction on the former Hudson’s site on Woodward Ave. in the heart of downtown. When completed, the grand development will include 1.5 million square feet of office, retail, hotel, residential, event and meeting space. At 685.4 feet tall, the world-class tower will be Michigan’s second most vertical structure and will attract a large and diverse workforce.
Penske Corporation, founded and chaired by Roger Penske, is described as a diversified transportation services company whose subsidiaries operate across broad industries, including retail automotive, truck leasing, transportation logistics, and professional motorsports. Under Penske and Bud Denker’s leadership, the iconic Detroit Grand Prix has generated more than $45 million in total spending annually for the region. With the race returning to the streets of Detroit on June 2 -4, 2023, after being held on Belle Isle since 2012, economic studies show that the Detroit Grand Prix will benefit more than 260 businesses by yielding an estimated $11 million in spending.
Henry Ford Health, Tom Gores’ Detroit Pistons, and Michigan State University announced major plans in early February of this year to invest $2.5 billion over the next ten years to transform Detroit’s New Center neighborhood into a vibrant, walkable community with state-of-the-art residential, commercial, retail, recreational, and health care components.
“Detroit is seeing more investment, construction, and job growth than it has in a half-century and the announcement of this $2.5 billion development takes things to a new level,” said Mayor Mike Duggan, in a Henry Ford Health-issued statement. “This partnership between Henry Ford Health, the Pistons, and Michigan State University represents an incredible investment in our city. Detroiters will have not only a new state-of-the-art hospital and medical research facility, but also more opportunities to live, work and play right here in this neighborhood.”
“I’m excited about our upcoming Pancakes & Politics Speakers’ Forum,” said Cathy Nedd, president of Real Times Media News Group. “It will be intriguing to hear our three elite panelists speak about their respective companies’ ‘Big Projects’ and how Detroit and the region will be impacted economically.”
Since its inception in 2006, Pancakes & Politics has spotlighted the changemakers, influencers, leaders, and movers and shakers in the private and public sectors. Previous Pancakes & Politics events have presented such leaders and newsmakers, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Gov. Rick Snyder, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Senator Gary Peters, former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans, former Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, former Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, current Oakland County Executive Mark Hackel, and developer and Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert.
Pancakes & Politics is the brainchild of Hiram E. Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media and Michigan Chronicle Publisher. Before creating the event, Jackson was disenchanted because he didn’t see a sizable Black presence or hear large numbers of Black voices at the table when regional stakeholders were making big public policy decisions on matters related to transportation, education, economic development, workforce development, and other issues directly impacting Detroiters and others in Southeast Michigan.
“I thought it would be interesting to establish a town hall meeting type forum with the leaders in the community, where there would be significant participation and feedback from Black people in the city and region,” Jackson explained. “And it was critical that the Michigan Chronicle hosted the forum, set the agenda, asked the tough questions, and attracted the panelists. And we wanted the forums to be held at the Detroit Athletic Club in downtown Detroit.”
In its quest to reach a broader audience, Pancakes & Politics 2023 will continue its virtual “Overdrive Series,” first unveiled in 2022 when the speakers’ forums were presented online because of the pandemic. Sponsored by Business Leaders for Michigan, the “Overdrive Series” will interview business leaders and newsmakers at the Michigan Chronicle’s Studio 1452 in downtown Detroit on an array of topics of interest to Metro Detroit residents and businesses.
“In the nine years that I’ve been with DTE, we have been involved in Pancakes & Politics, and it’s been a great partnership,” Frank D’Angelo, manager of events, DTE Energy/DTE Foundation (longtime Platinum Partners), said in an interview taped in 2022. “And I have not been to one Pancakes & Politics event that was a dud.”
For more information about Pancakes & Politics, log on to www.michiganchronicle.com or call 313.963.8100.