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.