Business Improvement Zone (BIZ)
The Downtown Detroit Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) creates a clean, safe and vibrant Downtown through services provided to property owners, businesses, residents and employees. The BIZ, in collaboration with Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP), is dedicated to enhancing the attractiveness and overall appeal of the Downtown Detroit Central Business District.
The BIZ is guided by rules set out in a BIZ Plan and governed by a Board of Directors. On April 15, 2014, property owners approved the Downtown BIZ Plan, which establishes a formula for BIZ assessment calculations, rules for governing the election of Board members and the scope of projects the BIZ will undertake. The BIZ charges the BIZ Board of Directors, a volunteer group of Downtown leaders, with the responsibility of creating a budget that aligns with the BIZ service delivery goals and needs. The BIZ plan is valid for ten years.
The BIZ Board of Directors is a public body that complies with Michigan’s BIZ law, 1961 PA 120, MCL 125.990 to 125.990n, as amended, and follows the City of Detroit’s process for BIZ assessment collection. We share the essentials about the BIZ budget, BIZ Plan and City process for you here.
Board of Directors
Steve Ogden is the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Rock Central. Ogden leads a small team of people focused on strategy development, policy creation and engagement for the organization. Prior to his current role, Ogden played a significant role, leading initiatives throughout the family of companies, specifically as a Director of Corporate & Government Affairs at Rock Ventures and as the Director of Real Estate Development for Bedrock Real Estate Services (Bedrock).
Debra Homic Hoge
Debra Homic Hoge is the global director of real estate at GM and is responsible for the acquisition, disposition and redevelopment of corporate real estate throughout the world. GM’s portfolio consists of over 335 million square feet. She maintains a State of Michigan Brokers License, and has also received a Master of Corporate Real Estate (MCR) designation from CoreNet, a global real estate consortium where she now serves on the Global Board of Directors.
Mike McLauchlan is the Vice President of Government Relations and joined Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in 2008. McLauchlan has spent more than 26 years building strong relationships at all levels of the community. Previously, he was senior vice president and manager of government relations for Comerica Incorporated. There he was responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of Comerica’s local, state and federal government relations activities.
Richard J. Hosey III
Richard J. Hosey III’s real estate experience entails development, consulting, financing and asset management of more than 80 projects totaling over $2.75 billion in development costs. Hosey Development is currently developing a 25-unit market rate multifamily loft development in Midtown Detroit in the former Tushiyah United Hebrew School and co-developing 1212 Griswold, 1145 Griswold and 1249 Griswold into 240 units of market rate loft apartments and 80,000 square feet of office and commercial space in Downtown Detroit.
George P. Barnes, Jr.
Active in the Detroit community since 1975, George P. Barnes, Jr. is the founder of Heritage Optical Center, Inc. and Heritage Vision Plans, Inc. (HVP). Heritage Optical Center, Inc. is Michigan’s first African-American-owned and operated full service optical dispensary and today comprises three Detroit retail locations. HVP is a full-service vision benefit plan management company which manages and administers vision programs for a range of national public and private clients utilizing the HVP national provider network.
Charles Beckham served as the Group Executive for Neighborhoods, where he oversaw the Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department and the Department of Neighborhoods. Having served at an executive level over five administrations over the last 40+ years, Beckham has also runs his own management consulting firm, held numerous engineering management positions at General Motors Company and co-founded and served as Executive Director of the African American Association of Businesses & Contractors.
David Di Rita
David Di Rita serves as the principal at the Roxbury Group. Di Rita is actively involved in real estate development projects as well as its advisory work with corporate, governmental and nonprofit clients. The Roxbury Group has advanced numerous development projects in greater Downtown Detroit, including the Auburn, the David Whitney Building, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Activity Center, and the Griswold.
J. Christopher Ferchill
As the President of Development for The Ferchill Group, J. Christopher Ferchill partnered with his father to complete the $180 million rehabilitation of the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit Hotel and Residences in 2008. As an owner of the hotel, Ferchill maintains direct involvement in hotel operations. In addition, Ferchill opens and operates Michael Symon’s Roast in the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, noted as one of the country’s best steak restaurants.
Linda D. Forte
Linda D. Forte served as the senior vice president of Business Affairs and chief diversity officer for Comerica Bank. She was responsible for defining and driving business strategies that establish Comerica as a leader in diversity and work life practices and has achieved national recognition for the bank’s diversity efforts. Forte also was responsible for the Comerica Charitable Foundation, Corporate Contributions and Civic Affairs, overseeing corporate giving and community involvement programs.
Dr. Kenneth L. Harris
Dr. Kenneth L. Harris currently serves as president and CEO of the National Business League, Inc. and has worked to advance minority and black-owned businesses throughout Michigan. Dr. Harris serves on the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and as Midwest director for the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce. In June 2017, the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc., the nation’s largest African American chamber in the country, acquired and merged the National Business League (NBL), Inc., an organization founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900.
Ken Hayward joined the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan team in January 2021 and is responsible for leading and directing the company’s social mission and community affairs functions. Prior to joining Blue Cross, Ken spent over 35 years representing the iconic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, as executive vice president and managing director.
Athina Papas is an Executive at the Atheneum Suite Hotel and Chair and President of the Greektown Neighborhood Partnership, Greektown’s community and economic development nonprofit organization. With longstanding roots in Downtown, her family’s legacy has helped shape our Central Business District through real estate development and management, hospitality, and small business. Papas also serves on the Boards of the Wayne County Airport Authority and Hellenic Museum of Michigan.
Dwight W. Phillips
A native Detroiter, Dwight W. Phillips was a practicing attorney and shareholder in the law firm of Phifer, Phillips & White, P.C. The firm has been located in Downtown Detroit since its inception in 1981. Phillips was also the managing partner of Annis Historic Properties, P. C, which purchased and developed the L.B. King Building in 1986.
Tony Tomczak is the Vice President of Corporate Services and Chief Procurement Officer for DTE Energy. Tomczak is responsible for strategic management of the company’s procurement, supplier performance management, warehousing, fleet, facilities and real estate organizations. In addition, he leads implementation of environmental sustainability projects within DTE’s buildings, fleet vehicles and supply chain. He is also responsible for the company’s local and diverse supplier initiatives.