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Minority Businesses Missing at Jobs Summit

May 10, 2013

Britney Spear


In an effort to begin matching Michigan's talent to available jobs. Gov. Rick
Snyder recently kicked off a two-day jobs summit at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Stressing that the state is "loaded with talent," Snyder's biggest idea revolved
around ensuring that Michigan doesn't lose its youth due to limited
opportunities. The first part of the two-day event included a pitch from a
handful of college students studying a variety of majors. They spoke directly to
local business, academic and government leaders.

Michigan's economic survival rests on providing incentives that keep new and
recent college graduates from leaving the area. That means creating more job
opportunities so that people, young and old, won't feel as though they have to
move out of state to find suitable work. It's a challenge the state must
willfully accept to remain afloat.

This week's summit sought to benefit not just job seekers but also prospective
employers. Gov. Snyder expressed an intent to offer insight as to the type of
talent available in Michigan, and who exactly is looking for work. The
conference also addressed key challenges and how the community can come together
to provide viable solutions.

"I think it's always good when you sit down with various industries and you ask
them, what is wrong with Detroit? It's always enlightening and eye opening,"
said Nathaniel Wallace, vice president of the Farmington Hills-based firm
Communications Professionals. Wallace expressed he feels one of the main
advantages of the conference is that it gave business leaders an opportunity to
forecast. A Detroit resident, Wallace shared that his company looks to do more
business in the city and wants to better understand possible roadblocks.

"I wanted to hear other business owners' perspectives on how they do business,
as far as retaining talent and adding more local human capital," said Wallace.

While several attendees did get an opportunity to share their best practices
with each other, certain representative groups were noticeably absent from the
conference. Referencing the lack of diversity, Wallace expressed he would have
loved to see more participation from Black businesses.

"We need to understand what is going on as far as Michigan is concerned. We need
to tell our stories too, but we are not showing up," said Wallace.

What's to blame for the limited presence of individuals who most closely reflect
a majority of Detroit's population? Wallace believes it might be due to a
variety of reasons.

"Either we don't know, we aren't invited or we just don't think that it pertains
to us," he said.

Spreading awareness is, as always, a matter of relevance. It is important that
minorities, just as much as members of the entire community, become more
involved in the conversation surrounding the state of our local economy. It's
the first step, and a major one toward better understanding and overcoming its
most pertinent challenges.

The big question is, how do we close the gap so that individuals from all walks
of life can better benefit from activities like the one held here?

Source: Copyright Michigan Chronicle (MI) 2013

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