DETROIT, MI. August 26, 2020— The PuLSE Institute (Institute for Public Leadership and Social Equity), Detroit’s non-partisan and independent anti-poverty think tank will kick off its first 2020 CEO Forum on Poverty Series on Wednesday, September 16, from 8:30 AM-10:00 AM. The online forum, Detroit and COVID-19: Displaced Workers and Rebuilding a New Economy, will examine current efforts to create a new economy in Detroit that leaves no one behind in the post-COVID-19 era. The highlight of the leadership conversation will be on the need to level the economic playing field in guaranteeing parity in the marketplace in seeking a truly inclusive economic recovery.
The speakers who will take the stage at the virtual forum are: Jerry Norcia, president and CEO of DTE Energy, Cindy Pasky, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions, Reverend Solomon Kinloch, Senior Pastor of Triumph Church and Jeff Donofrio, the Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). The forum moderator is Bankole Thompson, the editor-in-chief of The PuLSE Institute, opinion columnist at The Detroit News and the host of the daily talk radio program, Redline, on 910AM Superstation-Detroit.
Tickets to the online forum, which is free and open to be public can be obtained here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/detroit-and-covid-19-displaced-workers-and-rebuilding-a-new-economy-tickets-118404612383.
The speaker series which is focused exclusively on poverty is the first of its kind in recent Detroit history that regularly features a diverse range of top industry captains and significant political and civic leaders speaking directly to the inequality that is facing the recovery of Detroit and the region. The poverty conversation which The PuLSE Institute is driving is coming at a time when Detroit has unacceptable levels of inequality.
“COVID-19 has affected everyone, but it has had a radically disproportionate effect on the health and livelihoods of people living in poverty. Repairing this damage and making progress toward our ultimate goal of eliminating poverty will require unprecedented public-private partnerships to produce systemic and sustainable change,” said Norcia, the CEO of DTE Energy. “I’m thankful to Bankole Thompson and The PuLSE Institute for providing a forum for further collaboration, and I look forward to another passionate discussion with my fellow panelists and everyone participating remotely.”
Pasky, the leader of S3 explained how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the city.
“COVID-19’s impact on the Detroit business landscape is threefold: big businesses have stopped hiring, while many small businesses have been hurt by the statewide shutdowns as well as supplemented unemployment benefits. Finally, perhaps the biggest impact we see is within the healthcare industry. Hospitals who were forced to halt many of their other services to treat COVID-19 patients are now feeling the financial fallout and are laying off employees,” Pasky said. “These last five or 10 years have shown us, however, that Detroit is resilient and proactive in the face of adversity. Kudos to Nicole Sherard Freeman, executive director of the city’s workforce development office and her team, who quickly figured out ways to keep connecting people to jobs, training, and other services they need to move out of poverty. Other businesses, such as FCA are still hiring. It may take several more months before Detroit sees a full recovery, but the business community will overcome this challenge.”
Kinloch, a widely respected minister, and the head of Triumph Church, which is one of the largest congregations in Detroit, said the forum is needed for accountability on the economic recovery of Detroit.
“The PuLSE Institute forum provides us with an economic and social platform to create a ‘North Star’ for community and corporations to work towards,” Kinloch said. “It allows us to articulate quantifiable metrics to evaluate our ability to meet goals and objectives as a part of any plan adopted. I’m humbled to be a part of such a critical conversation to ensure a post-coronavirus era doesn’t look like business as usual.”
Donofrio, who leads the state of Michigan’s economic development initiatives underscores the significance of the forum.
“Not only is COVID-19 a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis, but it has created an economic hardship for thousands of Detroit and Michigan families. I look forward to the panel’s discussion on how the public and private sectors are keeping workplaces safe, helping businesses restart and expanding resources and opportunity for workers,” Donofrio said. “I thank The PuLSE Institute for the opportunity to share LEO’s work to provide emergency financial assistance and expand training resources available to residents whose jobs were affected by the pandemic.”
The PuLSE Institute’s president and director of research Tina M. Patterson, a former attorney for the Social Security Administration said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Detroiters should be at the forefront of any effort to combat poverty in this era.
“COVID-19 has exposed the worst of this nation’s socioeconomic disparities and the need to confront these systemic issues with sustainable policy prescriptions that will guarantee the social safety net. This inequity is most glaring right here in Detroit which already is one of the highest poverty cities in the nation as well as one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic,” Patterson said. “The economic casualty has disproportionately impacted those living on the margins of poverty and it is imperative to keep their challenges at the forefront of the economic recovery. This CEO Forum will focus on the need to lead the restoration and future of the post-COVID-19 economy by putting the needs of those who have been most severely affected by the economic disruption created by the virus.”
She added, “How Detroit’s industry captains, civic leaders and advocates respond to this monumental crisis in America’s largest Black city will determine whether we will have a better future that includes lifting those in the perennial underclass out of the dungeons of inequality.”