Optimistic about Detroit

In a recent issue of the Detroiter, Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber (and a Michigan Future Board member) wrote: “Ultimately Michigan goes as Detroit goes. The Motor City must be strong, vibrant urban center for the region and state to compete in the global economy. Detroit has to be the catalyst for attracting the talent and investment needed for success in the 21st century market. Across the country, at the heart of every single region bustling with commerce, you’ll find a  prosperous urban center. Cities have assets, infrastructure and opportunities that rural and suburban areas can’t match.”

The good news is – although most in Michigan don’t know it –  that Detroit is starting to play that role. As an engine, rather than drag, for the revitalization of the region’s and state’s economy. The story of the city’s revival is told well in a recent Forbes article by Joann Muller. Worth reading! She writes:

The city of Detroit is on the brink of insolvency. So why is it that I’ve never been more optimistic about its future? … all you have to do is visit Woodward Avenue, the spine of Detroit’s central business and cultural district, to see that something quite encouraging is happening. … People are moving back to the city’s core. Yes, Detroit lost about 25 percent of its population in the past decade, but young professionals are moving in, lured, in part, by cash incentives offered by some of the city’s largest employers, who have added an estimated 10,000 jobs downtown in the past 18 months. … The problem now is there aren’t enough apartments for all the people who want to live downtown.

More demand than supply. Unthinkable for the past many decades. But now the new reality. In the same issue of the Detroiter there is a map with the major recent new investments made in midtown and downtown Detroit. It adds up to $9.3 billion in planned, active and completed investment since 2006. Your read that right, it is b for billion.

For those of you interested in learning more about the new Detroit – the one that doesn’t get the headlines or on the evening news – check out D:Hive. Itself a part of the new Detroit. One of the best places to find out what is going on in the city and how you can be part of it. Better yet take one of their terrific tours of the city. It will fundamentally change the way you think about the city. Highly recommended!

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