In this space, I have previously written about Detroit’s bankruptcy and, as a native Detroiter, its emotional impact on me when first announced. I have also discussed Detroit’s future at various times on TV and and my Small Talk radio broadcast.
While Friday was a momentous day for the city, it is only a start and not the end.
Yes, there will be an elimination of $7 billion in debt and immediate available resources to invest in basic city services And yes, there have been sacrifices by all parties involved to ensure Detroit has a clean slate and financially, a fresh start.
Kudo’s to all for making this happen.
Now, the real work begins.
Through collaboration and, at times, difficult negotiations, the city’s financial debt will be reduced significantly and available dollars will be invested in improving core, basic city services–which are essential and sorely needed for its residents.
However, I’ve expressed my concern with the emergence of two Detroits. One with an increased vibrancy, energy and growth in keys critical pockets such as, downtown, Midtown and select neighborhoods.
And conversely, neighborhoods which continue to struggle without adequate jobs, services and, in some cases, an abundance of people.
The question becomes, where do we go from here and how does Detroit not fall backwards?
This region and state sighed a collective sigh of relief on Friday and I was struck by the 18-month transformation–from anger and bitterness to collaboration, conciliation and resolve.
In my opinion, this is the challenge–how, do we continue to collectively work for the betterment of City of Detroit, region and state, without regressing and getting sucked into our old ways? Politics aside, continue to focus not only on the financials, but its people.
The foundation has been laid and now, the heavy lifting and building must start and Detroit has to focus on its future. The days of constant political bickering, accusations and divisiveness must remain in the rear-view mirror and stop and be replaced with collaboration, innovation, forward thinking–and, a strategic plan which can be actually implemented–not, just placed on a shelf somewhere.
With that said and believe it or not, the bankruptcy was a good start.
In five years, we have to ask whether or not Detroit really has shaken the “old way of doing business” and replaced it with innovative, collaborative ideas and concrete plans which will truly focus on the betterment of Detroit’s future.
Or, will we see a return to the days of special interest groups only focusing on themselves and short-term gains?
I certainly hope not and only time will tell.
Finally, how do we avoid pre-bankruptcy issues which afflicted this great city?
Well. Let’s start with developing a detailed strategic and operations plan focused on public safety, education, infrastructural improvements, job creation, neighborhood stabilization and hopefully, sustainable, longer-term revenue growth, i.e. re-population of Detroit. All while maintaining financial integrity given budgetary constraints resulting from the bankruptcy proceedings.
Without these components, Detroit will be back in a similar situation–years down the road.
Now, we don’t want that.