WATCH: 8 business owners discuss the evolution of Pontiac & the future comeback

WATCH: 8 business owners discuss the evolution of Pontiac & the future comeback

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i'm carolyn clifford you may recall earlier this year in march we went to the city of pontiac after two high-profile crimes we spoke to a local pastor who has been on the front lines fighting to keep children out of dangerous situations and creating positive programs for young people to stay out of trouble from basketball to free summer camps but then we were approached by business people in pontiac who are fighting to rid the community of the stigma linked to crime as they attempt to turn things around in the downtown area so as we promised we returned with our cameras to talk to a group of local business owners and the newly elected mayor of pontiac tim greimel to see what's been done and how their business efforts and the mayor's leadership are bringing change and a renewed spirit to the city of pontiac what is going on in pontiac right now that you want to sort of cheerlead i mean are businesses coming back or what would you say well they are it's a new day in the city uh not only am i newly elected as mayor but we have a brand new city council we're emerging from the the darkest days of covid and pontiac is open for business we believe in supporting our local entrepreneurs and local small businesses and we have an incredibly bright future here in the city our administration is really committed to fostering more entrepreneurship there's no better cure for poverty and for crime than making sure that we're expanding economic opportunity for everybody here in the community now what do you think has happened with crime here i mean we've covered it a little bit but i heard a church pastor say things are coming together the community is working together together to bring crime down to make it safer for the community and that's very true you know pontiac certainly has its fair share of challenges when it comes to crime but response times from the sheriff's department have really been reduced so the sheriff's department has done a really effective job at responding to crime i appointed a new commission that's focused on public safety and on preventing crime from happening in the first place and we had a couple of tragic occurrences early this year but those were really galvanizing moments for the community and i think all of us in the community are focused on enacting strategies to really reduce violence prevent crime from happening in the first place and again making sure that we're improving the quality of life and expanding economic opportunity for everyone can you give me any numbers in terms of new business in pontiac or what's going on because we're in this cool space right here i've never seen this building but it looks cool yeah in in terms of numbers you know we're seeing more and more uh small businesses pop up especially here downtown it's still early going in the post pandemic period and of course we're still struggling with the pandemic but we're through the darkest days of the pandemic so in terms of hard numbers you know i'd have to get those to you but i think anecdotally there's a real sense of optimism in the community a real sense like i said that our community is open for business that we have a new city administration that's focused on streamlining red tape and being supportive of local businesses and economic opportunity when you see business leaders here in this room who want to talk about opportunities in pontiac i mean what do you say to them as a new mayor what's what's your message to them yeah well again we're really focused on reducing red tape at city hall making sure that we're creating an environment here in the city that's conducive to business that's easy to expand economic opportunity for everybody but also we've we just kicked off a town hall a couple of weeks ago in partnership with some local non-profits focused on supporting businesses here in the community and we're going to see a regular drum beat of town halls of how to forums of classroom workshops for small businesses in the community to teach our local entrepreneurs how to start a business how to put together a marketing plan how to how to do business taxes how to how to manage a payroll and we're also looking at putting together a revolving loan fund for businesses so that local entrepreneurs can get access to affordable capital to grow expand and be more successful so let's start with the three of you who have lived here all of your lives how is pontiac changed and it doesn't matter who starts growing up pontiac was you had the arts beats in each you had the fireworks shows you had events you had community centers there was a lot more here than there is now i kind of watched it you know all be taken away but now i'm starting to see things come back and events come back and as a business owner i'm kind of a part of that um that change because i'm also hosting events and community events events for kids and business owners and helping teach classes through t ramsey and associates and so kind of seeing the change so when you say things were taken away was it a slow process or did you feel like as you grew older it just dropped all at once um i'll say it was um it seemed as if it kind of all dropped at once but you know when you graduate high school you go to college you come back and things are different so it may seem like it's happened all at once but you know as an adult thinking back it really didn't happen all at once but it did seem as if it did because you know when you're in school then you come back i think that it's things did but i think it gradually started to go i think it started like when um the car company left and then like little events one after another and then i think when um the iris beats and eats left we kind of expected dream cruise to go and i think they kind of tried to take that but this is where it's always been and i think that's where it's going to stay because of the woodward loop so it just seems like a lot of stuff it did gradually go do you remember what people were saying as things started going i'm not sure exactly what happened but i do know that people noticed the change and they would say there's nothing here anymore we used to have this they they took that away or we don't have it or moved to another city um but like vida stated a lot of stuff is coming back and new things are coming more positive things things that we haven't had before are coming that are making the city look a lot better now is that because of mayor grimal or when did things start rising again i think it kind of the the new administration helped the hopes of everybody there were a lot of things that were said that gonna happen that really actually didn't happen with the old administration and now we have just a new sense of hope that things can change um and for the positive so give me some examples of what has changed for the better yeah sure so um we don't have art speeds needs anymore but we do have a bunch of different organizations in downtown and throughout the neighborhoods that are trying to do different events and doing them successfully we have different concerts happening downtown with the crow foot the flagstar strand is doing concerts this year too outside and we have a whole new youth coalition that's getting kids involved in different organizations too and so as a business owner that gives you hope or oh it gives me a ton of hope yeah it does especially one downtown because there's always been a divide with downtown and the rest of the town and the rest of the county and so we're just trying to bridge that gap what do you mean like what kind of divide has there been i don't think that and i'm not going to be the best one to speak to this but i don't think that the neighborhoods and communities in pontiac have felt safe downtown have felt wanted downtown um and there's good people like davida and tamika that are doing a really good job of getting people downtown and getting the neighborhoods accepted downtown so i think that um there are businesses downtown um that are not very open to the community coming into downtown or they haven't been in the in the past i'll say that and so um when there are events or new businesses that pop up they're not really catered to the community and so and that's where the divide kind of comes from because you get new business owners or investors coming into downtown pontiac and they're setting up shop but it's not really catered to the pontiac community so when there are events the pontiac community aren't they aren't coming because it's not catered to them or even promote it to them so i think that was the divide i think now that it's beginning to change um but we're we're hopeful and we're in the process right now so i think that's a great point and it's something as one of the newer businesses that we've really thought a lot about how do we incorporate more events and reach out to the community beyond just the inner loop here beyond just other business owners and it's a challenge but a good challenge and it's something that as a new business owner we look forward to being a positive part of how did you spot this building and decide hey this is where we're going to land and the building owner tim shepard he approached our company and asked if we would come take a look at pontiac and you know it's an incredible building and a great location and what really struck me though as we walked downtown and we met other business owners was the passion and belief that they had you know there was no doubt in anybody's mind that this was the place to be things are on the rise and we consider ourselves lucky to be a part of it and and how long have you all been here uh three years now yeah we started in a smaller space and we just moved into a larger space business has been going well we're bringing lots of creative professionals into town so the space that we're in now is relatively new to us and we're happy to be here what's the message that you want to get out to people in this story that i'm doing about pontiac pontiac is growing there are a lot of entrepreneurs here new entrepreneurs also there's resources here there's a series of workshops through the pontiac community foundation and transient associates for to help you know build businesses and then there's funding here also there's funding coming so there's hope i'd like to add to that too we talked about the importance of entrepreneurship and the mayor spoke to you know anecdotally he's heard there's a lot going on i can say in our space we're home to 12 businesses and over 20 different people representing those businesses and they're all new businesses to the area so i can say that we are seeing an influx of professionals coming in wanting to give pontiac a try so when you look at sort of the transformation of say downtown detroit do you look at pontiac like that and say i mean are you hopeful like that absolutely very very there i was upstairs looking over the city before this started and i was saying like there's a lot of opportunity here like pontiac can grow it will grow i corrected myself upstairs also like it will grow there there is opportunity here what about for families families because you know a lot of families have been worried about crime in detroit but families are moving back in droves i mean what do you say to young families especially when you say hey come get a house and i know you're not talking yet but you know come to pontiac and get a house what's your message to young families the crime is everywhere and it coming to pontiac is not going to make it a difference it's going to be crime is everywhere out there so it's just about who you're around and what situation you put yourself in a lot of time but crime is everywhere so if you're wanting to find affordable housing then you can come to pontiac to find it pontiac is a great community i have two kids here and we live right in town our neighborhood is amazing our kids are running down the street going from house to house and i absolutely love the feel that my kids have growing up i grew up in a really small town in kansas and i had that there and i really wish i i could go back to that but we're able to recreate that here in pontiac in our neighborhood it's amazing i would just tell people if you're thinking about coming down come down spend a weekend down here come on a saturday come to the farmer's market you're going to love what you see down here for you two who've been in pontiac for your whole life why'd you stay and why haven't you left it's kind of like a oxymoron kind of question like you kind of love to hate the the situation but i um i actually was um i wasn't born in pontiac but i i grew up here so just being from like a smaller like like being from a smaller country just i mean a smaller city coming to pontiac it was a different adjustment for me so being a kid and having access to like like she said community centers having access to go down to the fireworks being able to go to the malls we had a it wasn't in pontiac but it was close enough to where we can just go congregate as children and i'm saying so it was a good it was a good vibe for us but just like as we like i say around like 2006 2007 like kind of like after we i graduated 2002 2002. you kind of see things kind of declined a little bit because they took the plants away it was just more so like the kids just our generation alone like a lot of the kids was getting pregnant just doing stuff that wasn't like they weren't going to school so now it was just like the new administration that we have coming in and like we have people like tamika that's empowering the the youngest it's been more entrepreneurs that's been bringing the city back per se because now we're understanding that it takes us to to put back what was taken away you know what i'm saying so if we if we build and if i do if i do media if i see other small businesses that need help or you know i'm saying i would love to help them out so we can give more to the people that's coming behind underneath us because we like like now like this this panel right here people you see like we're kind of like the the middle the bridge like the middle child between the generation before us and the middle in the generation that's coming between us so we trying to bridge that gap to just level it out you know i mean so that's that's what i would say so do you think you will grow old here uh i think i will have property here i will everybody wants to grow old with palm trees and in the ocean by him you know what i'm saying but i would definitely my daughter she's a she's a graduate i know i don't look that old but my daughter just turned 18 she's going to bethune cookman i raised her here in pontiac she she went to she started out in pontiac schools but she's here and i made sure she didn't get in any trouble she she had a regular childhood here and now she's going to college so i'm proud of her so for me i'm i've stayed here because i've been here my whole life and um i raised my children here and they are for me i'm fighting for the kids that's coming up my grandchildren and things like that and i wanted to teach my children that i've done so so much like i was the first girl here in pontiac to play football with all boys and so when i grew up i played that was always my dream so when i grew up i played football for the semi-pro league and my boys was able to sit and watch me so that taught me that they watch everything that we do and so i wanted to be a leader for my children and i wanted them to be proud of where we came from because when i was a child here my mom didn't even have to lock the door at night and then to to start growing up and and being afraid of of people come actually coming into the homes and stuff like that and like they said times did change but it changed slowly but i noticed a change in also our school district as my youngest son was coming up so when he was when he was in the fourth grade we still had the feeder programs where the students in elementary can can play sports and they will grow up into high school and um and still play with the same teammates and stuff that they were with but as he um well actually with my oldest son it was like that but with my youngest son it started changing so i joined the school board because i wanted to make a difference in the schools because i saw that there was a decline in our education teachers as when i was a child the teachers that was in the schools with me also lived in my neighborhood so um that was that was also i believe why we were more respectful because they would say hey i know your mom you better you know get it together or you're going to be in trouble so i believe that we need that back and as a small business owner t ramsey and isha branner with ecommunity they surrounded the new businesses and they have these the business classes that helps us it is so much help with with these people with pontiac we we have come together and it seems like we're all a family the small businesses we all we all help each other in any way possible we have our pop-ups we come up with different ideas to together to try to make our community as one again we had some issues with with our youth and we're all coming together as a community to try to to try to bring our our city back where our children will be safe and have fun and be able to run door-to-door with their neighbors and things like that so i have nothing but faith in my city i'm going to die here in my city my children think that i need to be somewhere hot they say they might want to leave out but this is this is where i'm from i'm pontiac through and out i believe that if we put into our children good positive things and show them a lot of times i bring them in so that i can show them that it's not just about bacon but also the background on you can have you can do anything you want to do and and i teach a lot of people a lot of young students that they can have their own business and how to start and go about getting them who wants to talk about how big of a challenge has it been for you in in the two years of covet first of all with the old administration it was very heart opening they would say that i needed another inspection when i knew that i had all my inspections done and also it was it was very hard because of the shutdown and by me being a restaurant it really um it hurt it hurt us but the second shutdown when she shut down the second time is really when we we had a hard time staying open and things like that but we had the curbside as you know assistance and things like that when she was when she implemented that it helped a little bit but um right now what it is is the prices is going up on everything and so overhead is just yeah it's through the roof it's really hard right now it was a transition for me because i'm a in in person gym and when everything shut down i had to do zoom now me i love people so i want to see your expression i want to see you dying a little bit i want to come back to life you know and that that whole atmosphere of being the energy in a room helps motivate people so when we had to transition to the zoom and some people just wasn't feeling it like i'm not doing this zoom i want to see your face you know so it was kind of hard for me as well but when you have people behind you saying things are going to get better just keep going then it's going to get better just keep going just keep fighting that kicked in another gear and you knew that the people needed help so i deal with a lot of mothers so i had a lot of calls of mom saying you know i just had an anxiety attack like what are you doing over there you know so it's like okay you got to move you got to do something so just knowing that you needed to do something to help somebody it kind of pushed away the idea of knowing that there's a hardship going on and it brought to light that you need to help somebody live so it didn't matter that there was hard times going on because we had you know you're gonna keep hearing tamika ramsay and associates you're gonna keep bearing that name because you have people that like her and her business you know and other people as well in the city of pontiac that said we're gonna fight for you we we we fighting just hold on keep going so with that i'ma hold on i'm keep going and i'm gonna keep fighting and i'm gonna keep making sure that i'm helping people stay mentally sane you know you locked in the house all day you can't go nowhere you can't do anything did you in there with your kids you know it was over it was over for some moms and you know then the children had to transition to staying at home and using the computer and it was just a lot on um single mom single dads you know families in general having to readjust but we made it through that and everyone remained hopeful because we had people saying that oh we got something about to pop off so it was it was the changing you asked what was the change how did you see the change the change started with the fighting people so i you and you felt the push of the people in their fight and they were they were not coming down so you're like okay so i'm gonna get behind these people because they're fighting even if even if it's sending up a prayer or even if it's calling just check it on the person that's fighting in this position just to make sure they're okay and you know making sure that you stay in your position so when so when they do what they said they were going to do you were placed that you you're still in your position to for that door to be open and you can walk through it and keep saving lives so you know it was a little adjustment but we adjusted and we're still here which is amazing because so many businesses fell off but you're still here and now what do you what do you want to say olivia um do you think the mayor has made a big difference here in pontiac well the one thing that i really want to say is just how cool this city is and how much it has to offer i know brandon and i have only been here for three years and with this panel there's so much history and so much of a community that we are just tapping into the surface of and i think that when you move your business to a city and especially as an entrepreneur there is so much to risk and there is literally your blood sweat and tears that you are vouching for that you are putting on the table and it is such a huge decision to make not only for you and your livelihood and your family but i think entrepreneurs and small businesses we are here like you said we are here for someone we are helping someone it is about our clients it is about being able to serve people being able to make a difference and i think that as an entrepreneur i've seen firsthand the difference that one person can make that i have impacted or that has impacted me and i think that the city of pontiac is full of a community of individuals that are making a difference and that believe that one person can make that difference and that is the message that i want to share just that the city is here the community is here and individuals are here making a difference every single day and we are proud to be here in pontiac and we are proud to share that message and bring more people into the city to show what a cool city what a cool community it is um and just that it's here a thriving city for sure for sure um more a lot of those buildings that's not empty i mean this empty won't be they they'll be filled you're going to see like around this time you're going to see people going through this this is going to be we ain't going to be able to do this because people are going to be walking through there so i i do see within the next three to five years that our city will be thriving and we're going to have everything that we had back then plus more honestly people aren't afraid again unafraid to yes come out and and join in and people mental health getting back stable because that's a huge thing right now and you know communication and togetherness there's a togetherness that we are working on and it's working so the togetherness the unity you know you're not going to hear divide you're not going to see a bunch of people with a bunch of negative things to say or you're going to see smiling faces you're going to see cultures from from everywhere because we got a lot of everything in the city right so it's you're going to see all those faces all of us coming together and it's going to be it's going to look like we're going to look like one that's what we're going to look like we're going to look like one city one community one movement so we will be keeping an eye on pontiac and reporting back on the progress being made with local business owners and major ones like amazon and the fight to keep crime out of the downtown area and in the neighborhoods alike always good to see you turn around and the good outweighing the bad

2022-06-27 03:49

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