Forbes recently made the decision to put Detroit on the cover of a feature discussing the Best Places for Business in America. Quite an honor. It’s nice to see this kind of coverage of Detroit in such a major print publication– under the guidance of such a powerful claim nonetheless. I think it will be interesting to see what kind of pinballing occurs in the media over thi. Certainly it will be easy for other outlets to play Devil’s Advocate on this one and call Forbes’ out for taking a relatively risky stance with a city that so many have dismissed. That being said, my gut says that when Forbes is taking the road less traveled with such a powerful position, other media hubs are going to want to at least delve a little deeper and explore the idea that maybe there is something rooted in the Detroit story. Chances are they too will want to march in and report the same story but in a “different” way. What that results in will be interesting to see unfold. More positive press about the future of business in Detroit? An increase in angel investors and the venture capital community? Increased investor confidence in the viability of the city to house new ventures? Or, hey, just increased confidence from the general public that the cracks in the Detroit system reveal opportunities?
We’ll see. Any of those would be miniature victories in my book.
For now, the Forbes coverage provides a wealth of really interesting interviews and opinions as it relates to the forward movements of the city. The writer responsible for much of the content, Forbes’ Joann Muller, has amassed an incredible amount of content with interviews and analysis that really gives you something to dive in to. She talks about the city with a wide range of people– business leaders, auto execs, members of the foundation community, political officials and lots more. The result is a fairly dynamic approach to understanding the current state of affairs in the city. All this insight can be found via multiple articles she wrote:
One step further, there are a bunch of video interviews done by Muller covering a range of topics– the education system, the future of the city, the state of our industrial decline, and the nature of entrepreneurial opportunity that now exists. These interviews are available below:
Man! Lot’s to soak in there– kind of like an unreasonably lengthy homework assignment. It will be interesting to see what kinds of momentum is gained from all this coverage as Detroit pushes onward.
Detroit appeared again today in the New York Times with a story about the importance of land re-structuring and organization as we move the city forward. The article teetered between uncertainty and shots of casual optimism, but it expounds on the fact repeatedly that so many organizations and groups within the city of Detroit are behind the city. The Detroit Declaration got mention as did CDAD’s Revitalization Framework as being one of many initiatives that are behind that progression. It urges the importance of a plan, something that Bing’s office has claimed to be churning up. So get up, clap your hands, cheer on Team USA in the World Cup and start pushing for some action out of Bing’s office. Gotta keep this train a movin’!
State of the City seemed to go well. There were undoubtedly some vague areas, but overall, the right issues were at least brought up: public safety, education and re-structuring the city. That said, with each passing topic, there was some bits left to be desired. But perhaps this just gets the tracks greased. A new police headquarters is going to be announced within 60 days (the rumor mill is ripe with thoughts, the most notable of which is the United Artsts Building at Bagley and Clifford near Grand Circus Park), a couple of new “academies” (presumably technical schools of sorts) are going to be put up in the city and it was made explicitly clear that Detroit will not be annexing any of its land to nearby communities like Ferndale. We are staying together and fighting through. Nothing was really referenced in terms of the newly appointed city planner Tony Griffin or even mention of any strategic frameworks (like CDAD’s work) that have been developed in support of “right-sizing” Detroit. And so we move.
This weekend has a pretty neat fundraiser/beer-swilling/beanbagging event: a cornhole tournament. And it’s all for a great cause in support of the Colin Hubbel Fund. Colin Hubbel was a prominent developer and enormous champion for Detroit. The fund continues on as a legacy of his work supporting efforts of businesses in Midtown with things like grants for signage (Leopold’s Books). So anyway, the cornhole tournament is comprised of 60 teams sqauring off against one another for the COPA CORNHOLIO. Should be a fun event, taking place Sunday, March 28 at the Majestic Theater. More info here.
Holy crap, take a break for a second and Detroit starts exploding. First, call it just a winner of a celebration: THE MARCHE DU NAIN ROUGE. Seriously folks, this parade, dress-up day, party and see your friends kind of Sunday was really something else. Highly reccomend this one for next year. A lot of people came out and started the day at 3rd bar adorned in everything from priest’s garb to snowman outfits. The parade assembled and proceeded through the Cass Corridor as everyone chased the little red dwarf right on out of town and sent him away in a burning mess of flames that concluded the party in Cass Park. Everyone went to Temple Bar after and had a few drinks. The weather was beautiful, the sun shining. Simple. It was a good day.
The good news is still coming! Over the weekend, filming began for the second round of documentary shorts. So the films will keep coming in the same vein as The Farmer and the Philosopher. No details can really be hardened up for now as to when things will be ready and released, but at this point, it’s all adhering to a pretty aggressive timeline.
Finally, don’t forget about “State of the City” this week (and the Model D Speaker Series that will include a forum discussion after the address). Bing will deliver his speech on a forward vision for the city. The pieces are coming together. Toni Griffin, renowned city planner, has been commissioned by the Kresge Foundation to bring her team to Detroit and start to put the pieces together. Toni has experience working with a very similar city to Detroit that has been talked about here: Newark, NJ. The same town that has a documentary series about them on the Sundance Channel about how the city is actually turning on a dime and see much success. So, now, is Detroit next for Ms. Griffin and her team? Hear more on Tuesday when Bing starts talking shop on something of a plan.
Crain’s reports that the Kresge Foundation has been pushing hard for a redesign of Detroit with a proposal to Mayor Dave Bing that, if accepted by Bing and his cohorts, could have the structure of a brand new land use plan in four to six months. That’s kind of a big deal. The plan would aim to resize the city, something that has been lingering on Bing’s docket for quite some time now. In the long term, the shrinking plan would aim to concentrate investment and activity in various epicenters of growth around town. The fact that Kresge is heading up such an effort alongside Bing’s office with additional involvement form the Detroit Neighborhood Forum is also an interesting component to all this, as the groups have never consistently worked together. It’s clear that all groups have similar priorities, so there are certainly opportunities to align interests. The results, however, are all up in the air. But you can’t help but get a little excited that the “plan” is starting to form. It has been said for years that getting money tp rebuild Detroit (stimulus or federal funds) depends on the availability of a robust plan. It’s yet to be determined if this trifecta initiative will produce the plan we need, but nevertheless, it seems the steps are being made. And you know what? That’s sort of exciting.
Sports Illustrated did a fantastic piece on Dave Bing. It takes a look at the brain in Bing, his work ethic and whether those things will transfer over in to this mayorial position. It’s an encouraging story, but certainly acknowledging of the fact that whatever does happen is going to be a challenge.
And take a look at this writer’s account of being back in Detroit (he was originally from here) and his step-by-step guide on how to enjoy the city. Something you wouldn’t really expect to see in Vanity Fair, of all magazines. But hey!