Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to Make Authentic Southern Cornbread

Odis Jones is an experienced administrator who most recently served as CEO of Public Lighting Authority in Detroit. Outside of his interests in local government and economic development in Detroit and other US cities, Odis Jones enjoys good food from around the world. He is particularly fond of soul food.

Cornbread is a beloved soul food staple. In true Southern tradition, it should be savory, never sweet. To make perfect, authentic cornbread at home, follow this recipe from Andi Gleeson at The Weary Chef.

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Add 1 tablespoon of shortening to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put it in the oven.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of cornmeal, one-half cup of all-purpose four, one-half teaspoon of kosher salt, one-half teaspoon of baking soda, and a little cayenne pepper if you want to add some spice.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat one egg. Beat 1 cup of buttermilk into the egg, then stir this mixture into the dry ingredients. 
4. Remove the heated skillet from the oven and pour the cornbread batter into the melted shortening. Without touching the bottom of the skillet, carefully spread the liquid shortening over the top of the batter. 
5. Bake for 17-20 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Public Lighting Authority Lights Up Detroit

Odis Jones was the CEO of the Public Lighting Authority (PLA) in Detroit, Michigan from June 2013 to January 2016. In this role, Odis Jones was responsible for the overall success and mission execution of the organization, including overseeing finances and a staff of 245. The lighting infrastructure of Detroit was in such disrepair that the PLA devised a plan to repair it.

Very little investment had occurred in Detroit’s lighting since at least the mid-1990s. When the PLA was founded, approximately 40 percent of the city’s street lights were dark for reasons of stolen copper, broken bulbs, antiquated technology, and lack of repair staff.

The PLA is a state enterprise with no legal relationship to the city of Detroit but with a mandate to improve the lighting within the city limits. Upon creation, the PLA was to receive $12.5 million annually from the city’s Utility User Tax to pay off the bonds that were sold to finance the project.

Due to a low-interest rate of 4.53 percent, the PLA was able to raise $185 in funds from the bond sale, and that was enough to provision 65,000 lights. Work began in February of 2014 and was finished by December of 2016.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Attributes of Successful Project Managers

Detroit resident Odis Jones oversees operations at MVP Capital Ventures as a managing partner. Specializing in real estate, P3 transactions, and public-private relationships, he relies on his background in urban development and public finance to help guide the Detroit-based company. 

During the course of his career, Odis Jones has gained experience in such areas as budget management and project oversight. The project manager plays an integral part in the overall success of a project, but not every person makes a competent project manager. Below are three qualities that successful project managers share:

1. Leadership ability: Good project managers have a natural ability to lead. They are capable of gaining the confidence of their sponsors and stakeholders and motivating their teams despite not always working directly above them. Further, they can task their various team members with responsibilities instead of micromanaging.

2. Empathy: Empathetic managers are able to understand the different things that motivate both their team and stakeholders. On a day-to-day basis, team members and stakeholders experience different emotions. Project managers who are empathetic understand and accept these emotions and are capable of navigating around them.

3. Positivity: Every project manager experiences some less-than-desirable situations while on the job. However, focusing on the negatives drags down a team. Good project managers praise good work and show appreciation. Rather than focusing on a problem, they start looking for a solution.

Friday, December 16, 2016

APA 2017 National Planning Conference

Odis Jones possesses more than two decades of experience in various areas of city administration and planning, drawing on roles as diverse as chief executive officer of the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan, and president of the Columbus Urban Growth Corporation in Columbus, Ohio. Active in his field, Odis Jones also engages with organizations such as the International City Management Association and the American Planning Association.

The American Planning Association (APA) provides community planners and related professionals with an international platform for discussing and collaborating in areas of sustainable living, safety, and more. The organization is comprised of 35,000 members from more than 100 nations and maintains nearly 50 chapters across the United States.

Between May 6 and 9, 2017, the APA will host its annual conference, a premiere networking opportunity and educational resource for any professional involved in planning. The 2017 National Planning Conference (NPC17) is set to take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Activities scheduled for the conference range from a wealth of workshops and keynote speakers to self-guided city tours made possible by the seven-day MTA MetroCard provided at registration.

NPC17 will open with a keynote address by Peter Leyden on current trends and the influences of new technology and end with Peter Kageyama, a senior fellow with the Alliance for Innovation, delivering a closing address entitled For the Love of Cities. To view the entire NPC17 program or to learn about registration, please visit

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Get Involved with the APA National Conference

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Over the course of more than 20 years, Odis Jones has worked for a number of US cities and other urban growth entities, including Public Lighting Authority Detroit. Complementing his professional work in Detroit and beyond, Odis Jones holds a membership with the American Planning Association (APA).

Every year, APA hosts a conference that brings together professionals in the planning sector for more than 100 educational sessions and a product expo. On May 6-9, 2017, the organization’s National Planning Conference will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. In preparation for the event, APA has encouraged its members to get involved in a number of ways outside of basic attendance. 

Proposal submissions are one such avenue that guests may pursue to engage more fully with the conference. Whether they are interested in facilitating an educational workshop or want to make a small presentation, APA welcomes forward-thinking ideas in topic areas such as climate change, planning leadership, and zoning.

Those who do not have proposals of their own may instead opt to serve as a session reviewer during the 2017 conference. Volunteers may choose to review submissions within their specific fields of practice or explore new areas of planning. The process takes several months with each topic requiring four hours for proposal analysis and a subsequent conference call.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The American Planning Association

An experienced organizational leader, Odis Jones raised more than $250 million to establish Detroit’s Public Lighting Authority, which he went on to head as CEO. Outside of this work, Odis Jones belongs to several organizations, including the International City Management Association and the American Planning Association. 

Established in 1978, the American Planning Association (APA) represents and comprises professional planners. It also encompasses the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), which holds responsibility for the national certification of professional planners. Since its launch, APA has grown from a membership of 13,000 to one of nearly 40,000, with more than a third of these members certified by AICP. 

APA strives to provide leadership in the development of communities by empowering its members and ensuring they have the skills and support to adjust to ongoing evolutions in the field. To this end, the APA publishes print and digital materials for members, promotes sound planning through education programs, and advocates for the profession at local and national levels. The organization also encourages a diverse workforce by connecting employers with job seekers and by conducting and sharing research.