The Spartan Podcast

 

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“It’s the greatest decision I’ve made since I married my wife,” Crain’s Detroit Business publisher and editor Ron Fournier tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today in describing his return to his hometown of Detroit. “It was a great experience working in Washington covering the White House and national politics, but Detroit was always home for my wife and me. And we were determined to get back.

“Working at Crain’s is great, but the truly great thing is being back with our families and being part of the state and what I hope will be a resurgence in Detroit.”

The group discusses the Detroit Homecoming event that aims to reconnect Detroit expats with their hometown by providing news, events, and opportunities to live, work, or invest in Detroit.

“I think more and more businesses are starting to realize – or have realized – that their number one problem is talent,” says Fournier. “If your number one problem is talent, then your number one concern should be the fate of the public and charter school system in and around Detroit.

“If your community is not producing well-educated and well-trained people, that’s affecting your bottom line. So there is a return on investment in education, both in dollars and sweat equity.”

Fournier says that sports has a big impact on Detroit so much so that the business of sports is one of seven beats at Crain’s.

“We’re the only city in the country that will have all four of its major sports teams within walking distance right downtown.”

The trio discusses MSU’s impact in Detroit.

“Detroit is very different than it was three years ago, and it will be different three years from now,” says Simon. “It’s a very complex city, and one of its greatest strengths is that diversity, complexity and energy and the combination of grit across all of that. There are characteristics of a Detroiter like resiliency, no matter what you look like, that are very similar. And we need to build on those and learn and grow. We’ll make mistakes, but we’ll fix them.”

“I believe that the big existential issues that have caused a decline in America, at least our faith in our institutions, started first and were exacerbated in Detroit,” adds Fournier. “And things we can do to bring Detroit a new rebirth – the healing of those institutions and the recreating and building of new institutions – could be a model for the rest of the country. If we can bring back Detroit in a way that elevated everybody and not just some, that could be a model for the rest of the country.”

Fournier talks about his role on the board of the Autism Alliance of Michigan. His son Tyler is high-functioning autistic.

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