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Mackinac Island — Race was the focus of a townhall session Thursday at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, where some participants urged more workforce diversity in Detroit to bridge a gap between downtown and the neighborhoods.

The session was prompted in part by a column earlier this year by Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley about how two Detroits are emerging — a growing downtown and the struggling neighborhoods.

Several audience participants pointed out how more attention to workforce development in Detroit is the best way to combat the two worlds.

Dennis Archer Jr., founding principal and president of Archer Corporate Services, and CEO of Ignition Media Group, said he thinks Detroit would benefit from more diversity of business ownership to encourage more diversity of employees — something that’s currently lacking in too many city companies.

“We need more more CEOs of color,” Archer said.

Mark Davidoff, chairman of this year’s policy conference and managing partner of Deloitte, said the issue is important to him because of the lack of diversity in the accounting field. That’s why Deloitte, in partnership with Cornerstone Schools in Detroit, is starting a new pilot program in the city to encourage more students of color to consider careers in accounting and other business fields.

The conference has focused on inclusion in Detroit because of the significant economic impact it means for the city.

Finley and Devin Scillian, anchor at WDIV-TV, moderated the well-attended session. Finley said in the reporting he’s done about race in Detroit, he keeps hearing that city leaders and businesspeople have to be more intentional about inclusion.

injacques@detroitnews.com

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