Detroit is in the midst of a perfect storm … of opportunity


Detroit is in the midst of the perfect storm … a new mayor and a new city council working well together… a new financial future and committed business and neighborhood communities. The stage is set for our city to move quickly on its transformational initiatives.

Much of that was laid out by Mayor Mike Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr in a recent Stakeholders Meeting hosted by the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

7_woodward holiday lights_woodward holiday lights_michiganexposures.blogspot.comAs we all know, Orr is tasked with completing Detroit’s bankruptcy process. When it is all said and done, he predicted Detroit’s comeback will be swift and the outlook is bright. He cited how quickly Miami and Washington, DC, came back after their financial crises. South Beach, for example, was a ghetto and now it can take millions of dollars to buy a place there.

He also pointed out that Detroit’s long-term future depends on its ability to be a robust part of the global market. Everything that is being done now to move our city out of bankruptcy and create a sustainable plan for the future must address that issue. If we cannot accomplish that, Detroit will simply miss the boat. All of us … every person and business in Detroit … can play a major role in making sure we are not only on that boat but that we are piloting it forward.

Both the mayor and the emergency manager commented positively on their collaborative efforts and pointed out recent successes. Here are two examples. They created the new Detroit Public Lighting Authority, which made it possible to put LED lights in the neighborhoods to light the way for residents and visitors to feel safe and secure. That process began last week and the mayor expects it will take two to three years to get it done.

Getting the lights on

Getting the lights on

In other collaborative efforts Duggan and Orr reduced the number of land bank authorities from nine to one, streamlining the process of dealing with our blighted and heavily distressed structures Duggan said the city has a strategic plan to remove blight and at the same time not destroy buildings that can be refurbished. For example, if there are three abandoned homes in a neighborhood and one is burned out, the city will demolish the burned out one and immediately sell the others. The new land bank is a catalyst for accomplishing that.

Several other comments from Kevyn Orr stuck out.

  • The $820 million pledge from foundations, the DIA and patrons to keep the DIA and its art safe is unprecedented and Detroit should be very proud that that kind of collaboration and commitment is so vibrant in our city. To me it is a symbol of who we are … a city that will come together to make a difference.
  • He will be gone in about 7 months but there will be some kind of oversight when he leaves. That is necessary to ensure the capital markets feel Detroit is a good risk to invest in. Mayor Duggan is supportive of this plan.

Just think what can be accomplished if all of us take advantage of this perfect storm.

– This blog also appeared on CBS Detroit in the Technology Report with Matt Roush. Cindy Pasky is president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions and chair of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

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