No one expected good news to come out of the Census for Detroit...however, I don't think anyone thought the results would be so bad and so dramatic either. Last week's Census release indicated almost a quarter of a million people left the city since 2000 (237,500), or 25% of the population. The population hasn't been this small since 1910. While still a top metro area, Detroit could fall to 18th place in overall populatoin. Amazingly, Detroit is the only city in US history that exceeded 1 m citizens, and then fell back below the 1 m mark. Falling below 750 k jeopordizes many channels of federal funding, so the City has already appealed the findings. Now, as I mentioned, no one was expecting good news from this. What we have arrived at is a tipping point...Detroit can either rebound from this latest humbling blow, or it can quickly continue its free fall to oblivion. The need for people to move back to the City has never been greater, but the case to move down there has never been weaker, and the case to leave has never been stronger. Families certainly won't move down there, and they leave when they can. It is up to young professionals, urban hipsters, and the Millenials (who are already changing the world, as we see in the Middle East) to come back, clean up, and revitalize the City. The Midtown coalition of Henry Ford, DMC, Wayne State and their goal of bringing 15 k professionals to move downtown by 2015 is a start. The Collaborative Group's plan to bring tens of thousands of young adults to the City over the next few years is another good initiative. These numbers pale compared to a quarter million...but if a quarter million people can move out of a City in 10 years...they can move back in as quickly too. If Detroit can become the cool place to live, innovate, and rebuild (it already is in many ways - very cutting edge), and it can attract more Millenials who want to be part of something big, then a vibrant core by 2020 is not out of the question. The media are once again all over this story, and for better or worse, all eyes are on Detroit. We may as well take advantage of the attention to make our case and access the help and resources we need to rebuild. Recap: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/us/23detroit.html
Crain's is hosting the IDEA: Detroit Conference this Wednesday at the College for Creative Studies. There will be a number of interesting Detroit activists and a few business leaders sharing their thoughts on business ideas that work in Detroit. It could be worth attending, for both the sessions and networking - I might try and stop by for a session or two.
Here are the details: Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 Time: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Location: A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education at the College for Creative Studies460 W. BaltimoreDetroit, Michigan Tickets: $99 each, $125 on-site