By Jackie Berg
New business ventures represent the “shiny “side of Detroit’s resurgence efforts. Although they logically dominate today’s headlines, they do not represent the only side of Detroit’s economic development story.
The arrival of new entrants is preceded by other high-risk pioneering efforts like those of the many black-owned McDonald’s restaurants, which began operating in the City of Detroit more than 50 years ago.
Indeed, McDonald’s urban investments signal other investors that neighborhood revival is underway.
Such is the case of the recent grand re-opening of the McDonald’s restaurant located at Grand River and Lahser in the Old Redford district of the Brightmoor neighborhood, now owned and operated by Jon and Sabrina Campbell.
The Campbells made sure to include an interactive play space in their newly-remodeled location in order to reflect their commitment to fitness and family.
“We don’t see this play space as a nuisance, but a necessity,” says Jon Campbell, a multi-unit McDonald’s owner operator who grew up in the Brightmoor neighborhood.
Kids immediately spilled into the restaurant’s interactive video space, which features programs that combine the real physical dancing with energetic music and videos.
“It’s fabulous,” says John George, the founder of Motor City Blight Busters, which has been fighting neighborhood blight in Detroit for more than 25 years.
“The area needs more ‘people power’ and the personal commitment of people like the Campbells,” says George.
The couple did not just invest and walk away, according to George, who applauded the operators plan to be present in the day-to-day business operations of the restaurant, which employs 35 local residents.
Employment at McDonald’s teaches young people valuable lessons, according to Campbell.
“When a young person works at McDonald’s, they learn important lessons that serve them well in life,” says Campbell, who credits his professional success to lessons he learned in his first job at McDonald’s and is proud to pay them forward.
“I consider it a privilege to continue to have the opportunity to educate young people on the importance of getting along, respecting one another and pulling the next person behind you up,” he says. “McDonald’s taught me that.”
There is a lot newcomers can learn from early investors, like the Campbells, according to James Tate, a proud member of the District 1 unit of the Detroit Police Department (DPD).
“It’s important to get involved and stay involved in the local neighborhood,” says Tate, who is helping the Campbells maintain the safety and security at the new location, which many residents came out to celebrate and applaud.
The Campbells, who already have established first-hand friendships with many of the local neighborhood block club and community organization leaders, hope others will follow their investment lead in the community that Jon Campbell first called home.
— Jackie Berg is the founder of Bridges Communications Group, Inc. and a recognized urban market expert