It’s that time of year. The excitement, glitz and glamour of new vehicle and technology introductions at the North American International Auto Show are right around the corner.
I’m a car person and I love this show. The vehicles are spectacular but better yet, NAIAS showcases our city as the epicenter of the global auto industry. It also gives us the opportunity to tell the world Detroit is back. The transformation is ongoing and the future is bright.
NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts laid it out pretty clearly recently when he said, “We were already a great show pre-bankruptcy… we had a good show prior to bankruptcy for 25 years… but now the city’s back. Think about where it puts Detroit with all the new restaurants … new hotels … the excitement is back and the world is actually looking at Detroit’s world stage right now … waiting and watching … there are high expectations. We’ll deliver.”
The auto show will deliver and so will the city.
The more than 5,000 media arriving from 60 countries and 39 states and representatives from more than 2,300 companies attending Industry Days will see a city that is making huge progress. That also goes for the more than 800,000 people who will turn out for the public show, which runs from January 17-26.
Last year, NAIAS had a $365 million economic impact on Detroit. That could easily increase this year and certainly in coming years as more entertainment venues come on line. As a quick side note, Hotels.com predicts next year Detroit will join Chicago as the only other Top 25 U.S. destination in the Midwest. (Detroit is currently 28th. Chicago is 6th.)
That’s great and Detroit will certainly rejoice in that honor but we also want to be known as a technology center. The technologies shown by Detroit companies at the auto show certainly help but there is so much more.
For example, Grand Circus is Detroit’s hub for emerging tech businesses and was named one of Google’s Seven Tech Hubs in North America in 2013. Grand Circus is in the six-building M@dison Block, which is home to more than 100 startup businesses.
The transformation has not gone unnoticed. Detroit was named one of the most innovative cities in America by CNN Money.
In addition, the city’s revitalization efforts are very evident.
Those going to the auto show … whether media, company representatives or visitors … will see the $300 million Cobo Center renovation firsthand. For the first time ever, they’ll be greeted by a new outdoor digital screen at the corner of Washington and Congress that will give the outside world an inside view of the show.
Many of the media who have attended the auto show for years remember when there were 20 downtown blocks with 80 percent retail vacancy. Each year they come back they see more and more retail downtown. Moosejaw is one of the big retailers already doing business on the street and fashion designer John Varvatos will open a store there next spring. We have a way to go but by 2016 there will be 400,000 square feet of retail in districts along Woodward Avenue. That will increase even more when the M-1 RAIL comes on line in 2016.
By 2017 they’ll see a new Red Wings arena as well as a residential, dining and retail complex in “District Detroit,” near Comerica Park and Ford Field. It will exceed the size of New York’s Greenwich Village and D.C.’s Georgetown.
They’ll also see a high rise riverfront condo and hotel to replace Joe Louis Arena, adjacent to Cobo Center.
All this revitalization is happening against a backdrop of a continued commitment to helping those less fortunate and a safer Detroit.
The Charity Preview on January 16 is expected to raise $5 million for local charities. That will bring total receipts to more than $100 million since the charity preview launched in 1976. That’s just one of many programs, businesses and organizations that help those in need.
On the safety side violent crime downtown is down 21 percent and property crime is down 7.5 percent. The reason is collaboration between private security in the business community and the Detroit Police Department.
That sort of collaboration reverberates throughout the city in all revitalization efforts. Much of Detroit’s progress is due to the collaboration and cooperation of the business community and the commitment of so many Detroiters who have given of their personal time and treasure to rebuild the city. It’s still a work in progress, but we can now truly say Detroit is on the right road.
Detroit delivers. NAIAS delivers. That’s the message we want to share with the world.
– This post also appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business Detroit 2.0