Detroit: A city for believers

By Dan Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

I believe in the greatness of cities. They are the heart of commerce, attracting business, nurturing investment, creating jobs. And they are the soul of our culture, where intellect and the arts originate. In Michigan and across the country, cities are at the very core of our existence. That is why energy spent building and strengthening our cities is energy well spent.

As I reflect upon being elected Executive Committee Chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) , so many possibilities and mission-critical tasks come to mind. There is so much to do to continue the positive momentum, so much we must do as we work to restore the luster to our city.

Belief keeps us here, but belief backed by action is what really moves us forward. I learned that from Tony Earley of DTE Energy, my predecessor, who has been a constant positive presence in Detroit and with the DDP for many years. Growing up on Detroit’s east side, in the triangle created by Kelly Road, Hayes and Houston-Whittier streets, I believed in this place. And I believe in Michigan. That belief remains intact, even as times have changed. In Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, young residents and future residents want and deserve a place they can call home – a place they can live and thrive in, a place they can identify with and stand up for. A place they can believe in.

The DDP will make that happen in Detroit. I promise that, in the full comfort of knowing that positive energy and substantive results are already moving Detroit in that direction. It isn’t just talk. More than ever, there is action. People are taking notice. There is a buzz in the air today and excitement about what Detroit can become.

Perspective and confidence

As president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, I can emphatically state that our company has a real stake in the success of Michigan’s core cities. When national media resorted to the tired old bit of taking a swipe at Detroit when census results came out this winter, I wrote a blog post to provide some perspective about what is really happening here. There are ongoing struggles and concerns here, and a real uphill climb to get where the city can be, but there is also real momentum and a confident resolve.

Of the many responses to that blog post, one sticks with me:

“As a Detroiter, I believe in this great city. After reading your article, my enthusiasm has grown even more. Through your words and actions, please continue to believe in our city.”

Those words meant a lot to me. Because I do believe in our city, I believe in its people and I believe with great confidence that together we can accomplish many things. The comment demonstrates that belief is infectious and it leads to action.

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