Anthony Earley Cynthia Pasky
Detroit Free Press
Detroit is taking shape. New residential developments, hotels, retail stores and offices locating downtown provide a snapshot of what is to come.
Business leadership is playing a major role in the turnaround.
Detroit Renaissance and its member companies have invested more than $100 million in the past 10 years to speed redevelopment.
Last year, Detroit Renaissance, with major support from the Kresge Foundation, implemented the Detroit Public Space Fund to maintain public spaces in greater downtown. We also helped start a fund to attract retailers and supported programs to attract businesses and market the city to visitors, which we will continue to do in 2009.
Another exciting initiative is a venture spearheaded by the Hudson-Webber Foundation and supported by Detroit Renaissance and others to attract young, upwardly mobile professionals to downtown residential locations, creating a talent corridor.
There is much progress to be proud of. However, we still have a long way to go.
The upcoming city elections present an opportunity to advance the changes needed to continue moving Detroit forward. Faced with our region’s economic challenges, strong leadership and results will be required.
Detroit Renaissance has outlined the following priorities:
Ensure the sound fiscal management of the city: Adopt a 2-year budgeting process, ensure city contracts are competitive with industry standards, align the size of the city’s workforce to other cities of similar size and benchmark employee benefits to the private sector.
Improve the ethical reputation of city government: Adopt reasonable ethics rules based upon best practices, require competitive bidding for large contracts, implement sound audit systems and ensure staff is qualified.
Improve the perception and reality of public safety: Develop a strategy that will increase police visibility, target violent crime in neighborhoods and ensure reasonable response times to aid calls.
Advocate for significant improvements in education: Whether through public, private or charter schools, ensure every child receives a good education in a safe environment and support public school accountability.
Maintain a robust redevelopment strategy: Lower the property tax burden, demolish blighted buildings, streamline the regulatory process into an online, one-stop shopping system, maintain a professional Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and launch a neighborhood development strategy that maximizes resources.
Deliver cost-effective and reliable basic services: Prioritize services the city must deliver vs. alternative delivery methods and regularly monitor satisfaction.
Improve the perception and reputation of the city: Develop and implement a professional communications strategy along with the Detroit News Bureau.
The city must also actively develop and support regional solutions to mass transit, infrastructure funding, state aid and similar matters.
A recent poll of city residents done by Detroit Renaissance indicates that the priorities of the business community outlined above and the priorities of citizens are aligned. Now is the time for Detroit to build on the momentum generated by recent projects. In spite of the challenging economic times, we continue to believe in the city’s future and will continue to invest in its redevelopment.
ANTHONY EARLEY is chairman and CEO of DTE Energy Co.
CYNTHIA PASKY is CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions.
They are board members of Detroit Renaissance and cochair the Detroit policy committee.
LOOKING BACK TO MOVE FORWARD
As the influential Detroit Renaissance group of 60 business and university chief executives marks its 40th year of existence in 2009, much has changed on the Detroit landscape since the group's creation in 1970. And much hasn't.
5 ESSAYS BY DETROIT RENAISSANCE LEADERS
“Our region cannot grow unless our state is a competitive place to do business.”
By David A. Brandon and William Clay Ford Jr.
Identifying the state’s assets to build upon.
By Richard Russell and Hans-Werner Kaas
We need “significant changes in the way our state budgets, forecasts revenue and spends tax dollars.”
By John Rakolta and David Joos
How the city can accelerate its redevelopment.
By Anthony Early and Cynthia Pasky
How to break the region’s political and geographic silos and move forward.
By James B. Nicholson and Sandra E. Pierce