Detroit IS on the Road to Recovery

“Detroit is on the Road to Recovery”
Mayor Mike Duggan
State of the City Address, February 10, 2015

With those words, the Mayor discussed his plans on continuing to move Detroit forward. And to set the right tone, he moved this year’s SOTC address to the Old Redford theater—a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the importance of stabilizing, sustaining and investing in Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Moving the SOTC to the theater sends the message neighborhoods matter and its future continues to be intimately linked to the overall success of not only where people work, but where they live and play.

Without strong neighborhoods, the city’s rebirth will be short-lived and limited to certain pockets of the city.

Yes, there are certain parts of the city experiencing investment and growth, notably, downtown, Corktown, Mexicantown, Midtown. This investment will stimulate and generate economic development, create jobs and further stabilize the tax base in those areas.

Now, how can we take those experiences and permeate the excitement and vibrancy across all neighborhoods throughout the city?

That’s a tough question to tackle.
A good first step is to create a job-centric strategic plan with a longer-term vision focused on identifying issues, developing plans and clearly defined tactics focused on attracting jobs and addressing growth opportunities.

And a critical component of this plan is creating jobs in the neighborhoods.

Think of it this way, as Detroit struggles to stabilize neighborhoods, the questions becomes this: what do the neighborhoods look like in 5-10 years? In other words, what’s the vision and will the city have vibrant neighborhoods where creating jobs is a central focus.

I understand there many challenges still confronting the city, including blight, public safety, education, transportation access and improving basic services et. al. but, in my opinion, there’s still a piece of the puzzle missing—neighborhood job creation.

While jobs are being attracted (and created) downtown, there’s still a nagging question:

What’s the strategy to attract jobs in neighborhoods?

This is vital.

Creating jobs, whether through small business development, entrepreneurship and targeting and attracting companies willing to open satellite offices and facilities throughout the city, could play a critical role in attracting jobs, talent and dollars in the neighborhoods.

Clearly, the Mayor is correct when he states Detroit is on the path to recovery. Yes, the pieces are slowly getting into place. Now, it’s time to ensure longer-term job creation, investment and economic opportunities are expanded to all areas of the city because without viable neighborhoods, there will not be a viable city.