YARD party 

Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson hosted a party last Friday for Young Adults Re-claiming Detroit, a focus group of twenty-and-thirtysomethings that formed in November to explore the city’s attractiveness to this age group.

News Hits was on hand for the meeting, which drew 110 people. The unofficial theme of the meeting? Detroit’s dearth of opportunities for young professionals and entrepreneurs.

Frank Ross, deputy director of Business Development for Wayne County, and Karen Batchelor, senior vice president of Public Affairs for the Detroit Regional Chamber, were on hand to hear questions raised, most of which centered around lack of support for young entrepreneurs.

Batchelor shared information about CreateDetroit (see this week’s cover story), a local spin on Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Cool Cities initiative. YARD’s members, almost entirely African-American, were previously unaware of the program.

Once they realized they’re not the only game in town, members of YARD chose not to hate on Create, but coordinate dates.

They agreed to attend CreateDetroit’s all-day brainstorming session on March 3 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center as a group.

After all, they agreed, the issues are all the same, no matter which group hears their concerns.

“We’ve been in business less than a year,” says YARD member Rozeta Rox, a native Detroiter and CEO of Them Girls clothing line. “Of all the success we’ve had, little of it can be attributed to [help from] Detroit. Them Girls is in over 65 markets, including Tokyo, Japan. And we can’t get any financial help here.”

Peter Zeiler, development representative of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, says his organization does have assistance available for businesses like Rox’s, and he encouraged attendees to visit degc.org to learn more about what’s available. Zeiler said the help is there for the population represented by YARD, but knowing how to get it is key.

Zeiler says YARD has the right idea, but a lot to learn. “They’re beginning to get their feet wet and get a handle on helping entrepreneurs get started,” he says. “As they go forward and see where the appropriate places are for changing policy, they’ll be effective.”

Studies in the YARD on business building and planning for young adults will continue on the first and third Sunday of every month. For more information about YARD, contact Rox at 313-209-9636 or Steve Bland at 313-623-6323.

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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