Blog: New Survey Finds 80% of Detroit’s Top 100 Black-owned Businesses Feel Left Out of Building Boom

A new survey has found that nearly 80 percent of Detroit’s 100 leading Black business owners feel left out of the current economic boom and are not getting a fair shot at public- or private-sector development opportunities.
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Ken L. Harris
Ken L. Harris // Courtesy photo

A new survey has found that nearly 80 percent of Detroit’s 100 leading Black business owners feel left out of the current economic boom and are not getting a fair shot at public- or private-sector development opportunities.

The Black Business Owner Economic Confidence survey asked local business owners across industries about their attitudes regarding market opportunities and contracting in commercial development and purchasing in Detroit. The survey was conducted over several months, primarily with businesses based in the city, and was conducted by the Detroit Coalition for Economic Inclusion (DCEI), a national initiative of the National Business League Inc.

Business leaders across industries say the barriers prevent fair competition in the marketplace for economic equity and inclusion. This is the first of a three-part result.

“Numbers don’t lie; data and facts matter,” says Ken L. Harris, Ph.D., the national president and CEO of the National Business League. “Survey results show we have serious work to do removing barriers to economic equity and inclusion in Detroit and the region and throughout the state. The response is alarming.”

The survey found that 68.4 percent of the city’s leading Black-owned businesses have a negative outlook on Black business growth in 2019. Some 67.8 percent of the owners surveyed said they do not “feel included and able to fully participate in the economic growth happening in the city of Detroit.”

Nearly 80 percent – 78.4 – of the city’s leading Black business owners said they do not feel as if they are getting a “fair shot” at winning substantive development contracts for well-known projects such as The District Detroit building renovations, the David Stott Building, the Wayne County Jail site, Hudson’s site, Gordie Howe International Bridge, Wayne State University’s Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments, Henry Ford Hospital Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, the FCA plant construction, Joe Louis demolition, the East Riverfront, and more.

Business leaders across industries say the barriers prevent fair competition in the marketplace for economic equity and inclusion. This is the first of a three-part result.

“The challenges we face as a community are all too real,” says Alisha M. Moss, president and founder of the Detroit Chapter of the Real Estate Association of Developers. “I hear the frustrations firsthand from African American developers working hard to make their dreams a reality. There are more than 150 Black developers in the city – none have been given the opportunity to develop a mega-project downtown.”

The DCEI Coalition members include Jason Cole, chair of the Michigan Minority Contractors Association; Bryan Cook, treasurer of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Architects; Tylene Henry, Detroit president of the National Association of Black Women in Construction; Alisha M. Moss, president of the Detroit Chapter of the Real Estate Association of Developers; and Tarolyn Buckles, president of the National Association of Minority Consulting Engineers.

The National Business League (NBL) is the oldest trade association for Black businesses throughout the country. It was founded in 1900 by Booker T. Washington and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The NBL represents 2.9 million Black-owned businesses across the country and throughout the globe, with regional offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Atlanta and more than 365 local chapters in the United States. The survey was reviewed by university professors for third-party validity.

To view the entire survey, click here.

A Detroit native, Ken L. Harris, Ph.D., is the 12th national president and CEO of the National Business League, the oldest and largest trade association for more than 2.9 million Black-owned businesses across the country, founded in 1900 by Booker T. Washington. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with regional offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.  Dr. Harris received his Ph.D. in African American and African studies with a specialization in business and entrepreneurship from the Broad School of Business at Michigan State University.

Editor’s Note: Some black-owned contractors have been receiving large contracts in the city, including White Construction, MiG Construction, Jenkins Construction Inc., and more.

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