The Annual Auto Show: Detroit’s Time To Shine

The Oscar’s have arrived in Detroit–not those Oscar’s, but the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)–starting with the press preview this week.

There’s a lot of well deserved buzz and great news coming out about new vehicles and Detroit’s continued role as the epicenter of the auto universe.

Well deserved!

This is Detroit’s week to shine, which is great!

However, I wonder what happens to the spin doctors when the 5000+ media members depart. How will Detroit be portrayed–locally and nationally?

Sometimes, I’m dismayed by what I see on local news or read in traditional and non-traditional media.

Then, the NAIAS arrives and suddenly, it’s Detroit’s time to shine and, for one week, everything seems better.

Detroit’s issues are well documented and, as I’ve listened to local news reports, it seems, in my opinion, some broadcasters are portraying Detroit as a city on the move. In fact, one broadcaster actually stated, “…this is Detroit post-bankruptcy…” to which I thought, the city’s in the midst of it and has not yet evolved from it because it just entered into it a couple of months ago.

There are still many issues to be resolved in and, it is my hope the city will emerge financially stronger, leaner and primed for growth.

However, let’s not go overboard just yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I was born and raised in Detroit. I remember the days of constant vibrancy, neighborhoods full of businesses and yes, lights that worked.

But, as I listen to local broadcasts, it strikes me that Detroit is well on its way to its glory, albeit in a different way, days.

And like you, I yearn for those days again.

I understand the city wants to put its best face on. Don’t get me wrong, this is the Motor City and this is “how we do it”. But, let’s continue to be optimistic yet, realistic and not disregard the fact, there’s more to do.

Here’s the good news:

  • significant investment in downtown and midtown,
  • companies moving workers back downtown,
  • minimum vacancy rates downtown
  • an influx of young people and entrepreneurs which WILL lead to incremental investment and jobs, and
  • an excitement Detroit has not experienced in a long time.

However, here are other realities of this great city which still need a lot of work:

  • continued population decline,
  • infrastructural issues including 40% of lights which don’t work,
  • public safety–which still is a challenge is you live and work in the neighborhoods,
  • corruption which appears to still exist in some form, and
  • attempting to refurbish Detroit’s brand.

Before the show came to Detroit, look at a normal newscast or read the headlines and note how negative our city is portrayed locally and, since Detroit is a major market, these stories are more likely to be picked up nationally–thus, reinforcing national negative perceptions about Detroit.

However, once 5000+ media members visit, we’re like the new kid on the block who wants to be liked.

Once our newfound friends leave, we have two choices:

    1. Continue to focus on change for the betterment and continue to make new friends, or


  1. Keep the status quo.

I certainly hope for the former and the better.

Here’s my point, Detroit has built and is building more positive momentum. Let’s tell this story the other 51 weeks of the year–not when we have over 5000 guests visiting.

When the afterglow of Detroit’s premiere show leaves this week, let’s NOT go back to business as usual, but let’s focus on improvement and how we will continue to thrive and DRIVE the Motor City.

Because this is a GREAT city and let’s tell a more balanced story 52 weeks of the year–bankruptcy or not.


This is the Motor City and this is how we do it!