Douglass Johnston Diggs

Detroit businessman and real estate developer Douglass Johnston Diggs died today from complications after suffering a massive stroke on May 16, 2019. He was 55.

Diggs, President and CEO of the Diggs Group Heritage developed and implemented numerous economic development projects in the City of Detroit. The Diggs Group Heritage has negotiated over $760 million in development agreements and secured $22 million in project financing resulting in $71 million in new residential and commercial development.

More important to him was the work he did to create workforce opportunities in the City. He loved Detroit and Detroiters and saw it as his mission to create opportunities for minority businesses to engage and thrive in the City’s growth.

Diggs was the catalyst for a variety of programs to boost minority business development in the City including the Detroit Community Loan Fund, Michigan Statewide Minority Business Development Center and the Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute. Most recently, he was responsible for creating and implementing the Business and Workforce Participation and Outreach Plan for the Little Caesars Arena and The District Detroit to ensure that Detroit businesses and residents participate in the construction of the project.

Throughout his career Diggs was focused on growing the economy of Detroit. He served as Detroit’s Planning and Development Director and was Director of Business and Economic Development for Detroit Renaissance.

Diggs was born in Detroit in 1964 to Anna Diggs Taylor, the state’s first African American female federal judge, and Charles C. Diggs Jr., who became the first African American elected to Congress from Michigan. His stepfather, S. Martin Taylor, former head of New Detroit and later, Vice President at DTE Energy was a prominent figure in his adolescent and adult life. Diggs credits all of his parents for his work ethic and sense of civic responsibility that became his way of life.

Diggs was a graduate of University of Detroit High School and Wayne State University. He also received his MBA from Davenport University.

He served on the board or in an advisory capacity to a number of organizations including: the Democratic Municipal Officials, National Business League, Detroit Community Loan Fund, Venture Michigan Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Fannie Mae’s House Michigan Advisory Council, Lower Woodward Housing Fund Management Committee, First Independence Bank, Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Detroit Brownfield Authority, Detroit Downtown Development Authority, The Detroit Economic Development Corporation, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, University Liggett School, and The Parade Company.

Diggs is survived by his wife, Dr. Shauna Ryder Diggs and daughters Jaqueline Exyie Diggs and Alexandra Anna Diggs, sister Carla Diggs Smith and stepfather S. Martin Taylor.

A public visitation will be held from 5:00 – 8:00 pm on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at Swanson Funeral Home, Northwest Chapel,14751 West McNichols Road in Detroit. The funeral service will take place at Plymouth United Church of Christ, 600 Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201 on Friday, May 24, 2019 at 11:00 am.; preceded by a family hour that day at 10:00 am.

This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle. 

Douglass J. Diggs, Detroit Businessman and Small Business Advocate, dies at 55

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