Jennifer Hayes, vice president of administration (and pictured above with Congresswomen Brenda Lawrence and partners from Capital Impact Partners, Cinnaire, and Opportunity Resource Fund), oversees our policy work. In this article she discusses our policy approach and how it supports our work, clients, and community.
Over the past couple of years, Invest Detroit has increased our efforts to advocate for and support issues that help drive development and jobs. As a mission-based organization, we are focused on advocating for policy that helps us have equitable, sustainable, and long-term impact on our work. Policy implemented at the local, state, and federal level impacts our ability to meet the growing needs and concerns of our clients and community, so to fully realize our vision of a thriving and equitable Detroit, advocacy is a key component.
Like most of our work, we do this through partnership. The city of Detroit has an incredible group of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), economic development-focused organizations, developers and businesses who often come together to support important issues. As a member of the Detroit CDFI Coalition, we work closely with our CDFI partners to advocate for top policy priorities, especially at the federal level. During the past year, we convened these partners to develop a comprehensive public policy agenda and help identify key priorities. Working with partners has proven to be incredibly impactful. When elected officials see groups of partners coming together to advocate for specific public policy, they understand how important an issue is.
Today, our policy focus is transitioning from advocating for programs to help us through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to implementing our comprehensive pro-growth agenda. The goal of this pro-growth agenda is to support job and economic growth in distressed urban communities across our state and turn Michigan’s urban centers into sustainable economic engines. Our policy agenda has three focus areas – capital, process, and policy. We are actively advocating for public policy that supports the following:
- Increase COVID-19-related relief and restart programs to help businesses through the phases of economic recovery – Respond, Stabilize, Grow
- Continue to invest in and support small and startup businesses to help them grow, create jobs, and foster neighborhood revitalization
- Advocate for a tax structure that incentivizes long-term growth; and support development of vacant land and property revitalization
- Advocate for increased local and state agency alignment to ensure programs are implemented in a coordinated way so that tools meet the needs of the economic development community
- Provide additional gap financing tools and access to capital to support real estate development projects and initiatives in distressed communities to help them overcome challenges like high tax rates, increased costs to rehabilitate blight vacant property, market challenges, and project costs
Our public policy work is essential to grow the future of our work and mission. As a mission-driven organization, our team has some incredible goals that will drive economic growth for our city by supporting small business and startups, neighborhood revitalization, and job creation…all while focused on equitable and inclusive impact that supports people of color, women-owned and immigrant-led businesses and projects. When our elected officials understand and support our mission, there is so much we can do.