Why Not Detroit?

“Go west, young man!”

“There’s gold in those hills.”

These catch phrases date back to the “gold rush” days and capture reasons for why moved West–to strike it rich.

It also captures the recent allure of the tech industry and San Francisco.  Yes, the tech industry and Silicon Valley have attracted many from all over the country.

Because of Silicon Valley and the opportunity to work at technology startups, and the hope of cashing out after a company goes public or aligning a business as part of a strategic alliance or partnership, many people made financially enriched themselves.

This dream and subsequent reality, at times, encouraged many to pick up their roots and move West and is a key driving factor for costs increasing significantly.

And now, many are beginning to leave because they can no longer afford to live there.

Higher housing, gas, education and entertainment costs are now driving residents away from San Francisco’s nickname, “The City”.

According to recent reports, median SF home price averages $1.4 million, making it the most expensive in the West and one of the most expensive in the country.  Now, add $5 per gallon gas prices, skyrocketing costs for private schools, higher-than-average restaurant pricing options and many are choosing to leave “The City”.

According to Redfin, a real estate brokerage firm, more than 28,190 residents moved away from San Francisco during the second quarter of 2019, which is nearly doubled 2017’s rate.  I’ve previously written in this space that a 900-square foot apartment in downtown San Francisco was renting for $5600 per month–so much so, that four people were sharing this limited living space.  And now, due to prohibited costs, many are deciding it’s time to move on–whether to raise a family or simply to save money.

Seattle and Austin, TX, are a two cities which are benefiting from this “spillover affect” of new residents and talent from SF.

Why not Detroit?  Let’s throw our city into the mix.

With its emergence as a technology hub, lower housing, land and transportation costs, Detroit is primed to attracting new residents for those wanting an affordable lifestyle.  This region has some of the finest universities and cultural institutions in the country and its spirit is driven by dedication, determination and hard work.

And this diverse and vast metropolitan area of 5 million people continues to innovate. With its strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and now, a “hipness” factor, Detroit is a great place to come.  Yes, there are still significant issues which need to be address.  However, name one major metropolitan area which doesn’t and I’ll guarantee that one of our beloved sports teams will when a championship this year.

We would all generally agree the odds are not in our favor.

It’s been well-documented the roads are a challenge, public safety needs to continue to improve, talent gaps need to close in this new economy and public education still needs to be better.   However, there’s an opportunity for state and regional leadership to develop and implement solutions focused on overall regional improvement.

Detroit is primed and “ready-to-go”.

Now is the time for Detroit to tell others to move back to Midwest and to the venerable Motor City, a place where you can innovate, make a difference AND afford to live and raise a family.

The time is now!

Mark S. Lee President & CEO, The LEE Group, a Plymouth-based, strategic consulting firm.  You can hear him “In the Conference Room”. Sundays, 11am – 1pm, on 910am or check out “Small Talk with Mark S. lee”