Yes, Motor City has been devastated by the recession and decades-long secular trends. But that doesn’t mean it can’t recover. At the very least, there are signs that Detroit has reached the trough.
Leading the way is General Motors, which has increased sales 49% since last year.
American automakers added 55,000 jobs in the year after Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, according to the NYT.
They had been shedding jobs for over a decade, including an incredible 330,000 layoffs in 2008.
The housing market can only get better. After dropping 60 per cent from peak, prices are finally projected to improve, according to Case Shiller.
This makes it an attractive buyers market.
Moreover, the city is giving out incentives to college graduates and police officers who move to Detroit. Mayor Bing has also taken a proactive response to blight, by demolishing abandoned neighborhoods.
Detroit's jobless rate declined 3.8 per cent in 2010, according to the BLS.
This was the largest decline among cities of over 1 million people, and the sixth largest among all cities. Nearby Muskegon, Monroe, Jackson, Flint and Holland posted the other largest declines.
Despite these gains, Motor City's unemployment rate is still 11.3 per cent.
Detroit's rate of new business formation nearly doubled from 2006 to 2009, according to the Kaufman Foundation
Empty spaces, low rent and financial necessity are sparking entrepreneurship in Detroit.
A few examples named in a recent NYT article were Burton theatre, an indie foreign movie house; Good Girls Go To Paris, a creperie; Curl Up And Dye, a hair salon; and Breezcab, a rickshaw company.
Metro Detroit posted 820 tech job openings in February and led the US with a 101% growth rate, according to Detroit News. Granted its starting with a smaller base, which makes growth easier but the city is looking to develop its tech sector. Detroit Venture Partners was founded in November 2010 and the firm aims to invest $2 million to $3 million annually into about 15 tech start-ups.
Furthermore, Detroit was named one of the 10 most cloud-friendly cities by Microsoft, according to Technet.com. Detroit is also home to 1 of 11 Microsoft Technology centres in America.
Detroit recently ranked 46 out of 150 global cities for economic growth. That's a big improvement from its ranking of 146 a few years ago
This ranking by the Brookings Institution looks at employment, gross metropolitan product and housing. Detroit ranked 147 from 1993 - 2007, 146 during the recession and 46 for the period between 2009 - 2010.
Michigan's film industry generated $350 million in spending in 2008 and 2009, following the introduction of a tax credit
Although the state is considering cutting the tax credit from the budget, there's no denying the productions it has brought.
Michigan attracted 87 productions in 2008 and 2009, according to Mlive.com. Vanishing On 7th Street, Scream 4, Real Steel, This Must Be the Place, St. Vincent, Vamps, The Double, Harold and Kumar 3, Transformers 3 are all movies that recently filmed or will film in Detroit this year.
Detroit saw its crime rate drop in 2010, the murder rate fell to 308 in 2010, down from the 364 in 2009. Non-fatal shootings were down 10.5%, from 1,170 in 2010 from 1,307 the previous year according to The Detroit News.
The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority announced a bond-funded $221 million renovation of Cobo centre on March 2. The new convention centre will have a 40,000 square-foot ballroom with views of the river and downtown Detroit.
Detroit is raising funds to build an international trade crossing bridge between the city and Windsor, Ontario. Canada has already pledged $550 million and the construction is slated to create 10,000 jobs and is set to support another 25,000 jobs once construction is completed, according to Govmonitor.
Detroit may be facing education cuts but it's also using this time to innovate and rehabilitate the education system. The city's Palmer Park Preparatory Academy was recently on the cover of Education Week for becoming a teacher led school in which teachers take over administrative duties. They also have a new pilot program that allows teachers to regroup the middle school students based on the students' performance and their learning curve.
Chrysler/Fiat has unveiled the electric Fiat 500.
These were some of the stars of the 2011 Detroit Motor Show, continuing the shift away from gas-guzzlers.
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