We were in the sunny confines of Detroit’s Campus Martius Park. Hundreds of people were gathered, participants and fans, to enjoy the kick-off of a summer games competition involving obstacle courses, trivia contests, sack races and much more. More than a team-building event, the companies were celebrating 187 new residents to the city (with more in the pipeline) and more than $800,000 spent in privately funded incentives to help make Downtown Detroit more dense and vibrant.
But why does a stronger Downtown matter to the rest of the region?
The competitors hailed from all the major counties — all enjoying what is the historic center of our region, literally feet from the milestone sunk into the bottom of the park from which all of our mile roads are measured (you can see this point of origin through the glass by the Fountain Bistro). Downtown is a place where everyone can come together, shed the petty differences of city borderlines, and have fun. Downtown Detroit is for everyone, and always has been. You don’t have to live in the D to love the D.
Nationally, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a region cannot be strong without a strong core — proof of that can be seen in the turnaround of New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago and other areas. The city and greater Detroit is our core. I can tell you in the last 10+ years Downtown that monumental, mostly positive change has occurred. Sometimes, if you’re new, there isn’t context. You wouldn’t necessarily know that the streets are cleaner as well as busier, that new stores are popping up or that the new demand for residential builds on the previous work, which according to DDP CEO Dave Blaskiewicz , is “pulling forward” new development projects. The future will build upon the good work happening today.
These five companies (plus a new one this year) — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Compuware, DTE Energy, Quicken Loans, Strategic Staffing Solutions, and now Marketing Associates aren’t waiting for some renaissance to happen. They’re making it happen with their own dollars. These companies have pledged incentives over the next four years. More than $800,000 has already been funded in the first year of the five-year program. Not only have they pledged money to encourage people to live in Downtown, Midtown, Eastern Market, Corktown and Lafayette Park, these companies have also brought in tens of thousands of new employees. In fact, we just got word that another 1,500 will be joining the downtown workforce from Title Source (announcement on Wednesday).
Part of that renaissance is also about fun and having positive experiences. We were at the kick-off, and you’ve gotta see the pictures of these folks. We’ve included a gallery, and of course, you can learn more about the games and get a schedule of events at http://www.downtowndetroit.org/summergames
Smiles in Detroit are always a good thing. And although we have all kinds of challenges in this city, it can and will turn around.. the road of progress is long but taken one event, one day, one friendship at a time.
Live Downtown Games Opening Day Photo Gallery:
Photo credits: Ashley Hennen