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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Re-population vs. downsizing

Mayor Bing has made it a priority to downsize the city, and certainly, it could be a solution to many of the problems facing Detroit. The tax base is too thin to support a city larger than Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco. However, the focus should not only be on demolishing old buildings, closing schools, and returning huge chunks of city to wilderness. That is important, but I believe that it is equally important to focus on initiatives to attract people back to the city.

There are a number of unconventional ideas I can think of to bring people back - here are a couple:
  • We have become a low cost area - people live on less in Detroit than any other big city in America (http://detnews.com/article/20100324/BIZ/3240322/1001/Study-puts-Detroiters-at-bottom-of-nation-s-spenders) - we should promote this to attract businesses and people back, as you don't need to pay/earn to much to thrive in Detroit
  • We could give away houses or land (or vacant office space) for free as incentives for people (or business to give to employees) relocating to Detroit - such land allocation is how the country awarded settlers during the 1800s (begging the pardon of the Native Americans), so I imagine that this tradition could work in Detroit as well - instead of sitting on ever increasing amounts of real estate or selling property for peanuts at auction, we can use these resources as tools to incent people to move to Detroit
  • We could work out a deal with the US immigration department to fast track visas and green cards for people moving to the city

What do you think?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Advice from all sides for Detroit

Lots of interesting articles today in the Free Press and News with help or advice for Detroit. Some highlights:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's Save Michigan!

Today is the last day to participate in an interesting contest led by the DIA and a public outreach organization. You can vote on your favorite poster for use in a campaign to inspire local awareness and rally Michiganians together. Vote here: http://letssavemichigan.com/

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A new day for Detroit Public Schools

Very interesting news coming out today about the future of Detroit Public Schools. A 20 page report called "Taking Ownership: Our Pledge to Educate All of Detroit's Children" was issued by an influential group of Detroiters (from the mayor to the heads of key foundations) called Excellent Schools Detroit. The goal is to create the "fastest improving school district in the country", and the emphasis is on the kids instead of unions, bureaucracy, contractors, or other stakeholders. The mayor would take control, the board would be disbanded, the foundations would invest, schools would close, new ones would open. The objective is a complete overhaul to help Detroit students become the first major city with 90% high school graduation.

Of course, mayor control did not necessarily work in the past (1999-2005 didn't work out at all). However, with the involvement of players like the Skillman, Gates and Kellogg foundations, I hope this time would be different.

Some links to articles covering this story:
http://freep.com/article/20100310/NEWS01/303100003/1318/Plan-for-Detroit-schools-Ambitious-transformation
http://freep.com/article/20100311/COL10/3110440/1318/
http://freep.com/article/20100311/NEWS05/3110446/1318/

In other news, it looks like the Silverdome is shaking off the mothballs. I am not sure how I feel about its reversion to stadium-hood (it has so much potential for other things too), but better than the wrecking ball. http://freep.com/article/20100311/COL06/3110462/1320/Vision-for-the-Silverdome

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cobo infusion

Some good news coming out last week in terms of economic impact on Detroit. An influential trade group, the American Society of Association Executives has decided to host its 2015 convention in Detroit. Basically, this is the association of associations, the Super Bowl of conventions. The honchos who decide where various conventions and conferences will take place are going to be visiting Detroit - 5,500 decision makers in total. The MDCVB estimates we will get over 1,300 spin-off events from this convention, as 20% of the attendees plan a future event in the host city within five years of the convention. If we do a good job in 2015, this convention could help boost the image of the City tremendously, given all of the potential secondary (and tertiary, if anyone comes back for a visit with family) visitors. We have five years to get our act together...Still, a bit of good news and good luck for Detroit! The investment in our tourism and hospitality sector, including the airport, Cobo, hotels, etc. looks like it may start paying off soon...

Here are the reports from the Free Press and News:

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100306/BIZ/3060312/1001
http://www.freep.com/article/20100304/NEWS01/3040439/1322/Meeting-planners-are-headed-to-Detroit-in-15