Talking equity, inclusion, and entrepreneurship in East Downtown Dearborn — and online

The East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority is taking a proactive approach to making their community a more equitable and inclusive one.

Earlier this year, the EDDDA debuted its Homage to Black Excellence program, a series of events, panels, and initiatives meant to acknowledge systemic racism and create a plan of action to combat it.

February began with the Art of Courage: Black Lives Matter 360 Exhibition, which runs from now through February 2022 at City Hall Park and the Connector at City Hall Artspace.

This Saturday, Feb. 20, marks the beginning of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion panel discussions, which take place on the third Saturday of every month through May. The online events are free and open to the public.

This month’s panel features a discussion on small businesses and entrepreneurship.

“For Dearborn, it’s not just about the amount of minority- and women-owned businesses that are here, but also about if those businesses are getting contracts with the city and if the city is providing a welcoming environment for minorities. That’s the three-legged stool. If one leg is broken, then it will be challenging here and into the future,” says Dr. Robbya Green-Weir, committee chair of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion board and moderator of the panel discussions.

This month’s panel features a host of community leaders and stakeholders, representing local chambers of commerce, academic institutions, banks, and more. There will be discussions of systemic racism as well as information for small business owners, like how to navigate the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Future panels include discussions on community safety, real estate development, and healthcare, education, and other resources.

A survey meant to shape the direction of conversation is available online.

“These panels are a way to engage our business owners, residents, and visitors, to get everyone engaged in the process of improving the city,” says Julia Kapilango, EDDDA board chairperson.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.