Detroit Evening Report: Mackinac Policy Conference starts, Detroit city airport to receive improvements and more

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A horse carriage in front of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

A horse carriage in front of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

On the latest episode of the Detroit Evening Report, we cover the start of the 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference, Detroit selected for Toyota’s Sustainable Cities Challenge, a new terminal being built at Detroit City Airport and more.

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Policy makers and leaders gather on Mackinac Island

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference is underway. Hundreds of business leaders, politicians, media and heads of non-profits travel to Mackinac Island each year to discuss policies and plans to move metro Detroit forward. Speakers this year include Mayor Mike Duggan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, NBC political analyst Chuck Todd and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. This year’s theme is “Bridging The Future Together.” Detroit PBS will livestream sessions from the conference at through Friday.

A planned debate between Michigan’s U.S. Senate candidates at the conference was canceled after two of the candidates declined to take part in the event.

WDET is airing live coverage from the Mackinac Policy Conference this week with in-depth interviews and analysis. Stay updated at

Wayne State University continues remote operations

Wayne State University announced Wednesday that they will continue remote operations this week. Classes are taking place virtually and most employees are asked to work from home — with the exception of critical operations. The university says it’s taking these steps because of a public safety issue. Pro-Palestinian students have set up an encampment behind State Hall since Thursday. The protesters say they want the university to divest from Israel because of the war in Gaza. University officials and students have not been able to come to terms to arrange a meeting between the two sides.

Toyota selects Detroit as one of three cities for the Sustainable Cities Challenge

Detroit is one of just three cities worldwide that have been selected for the Sustainable Cities Challenge. Toyota Motor Foundation is supporting the $9 million global initiative to help cities work on issues such as creating healthier and safer environments — and finding ways to make mobility more sustainable. Detroit joins Venice, Italy and Varanasi, India in beating out 150 other cities for the honor.

New terminal and hangar to be built at Detroit City Airport

Detroit officials are making plans to improve the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport — known to longtime Detroiters as Detroit City Airport. The city has offered a long-term lease to the facility’s operator, Avflight. The company will build a new terminal and a new heated hangar as part of the deal. Avflight has had short-term leases with Detroit since 2011. The city is also improving facility lighting and renovating runways.

These are the first changes of this scale to take place at Detroit City Airport in 50 years. The facility first opened in 1927 at 11499 Conner St, while the final commercial airline service out of the airport ended in 2000.

Veteran WDIV anchors and reporters take voluntary buy-outs

Television news watchers in metro Detroit will no longer see some of their favorites. WDIV (Channel 4) has announced that longtime sports anchor Bernie Smilovitz and reporters Paula Tutman, Mara McDonald and Rod Meloni will leave the station in July. WDIV management offered them “voluntary retirement incentive” packages, which the four accepted. Other off-camera employees have taken similar packages.

Deadline Detroit first broke the story earlier this month. Smilovitz has the longest tenure at the station of those leaving, starting for the first time at WDIV in 1986. He left to work in New York for a brief stint before returning to Detroit.

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  • Jerome Vaughn
    Jerome Vaughn is News Director at 101.9 WDET. His interest in news reporting began when he was five years old, after his mom bought him a yellow Panasonic ball and chain radio.