CBS

As bad as the recession has been for most American cities, it's been even worse for Detroit. Now there are new signs of economic life.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports Detroit is reinventing itself from the bottom up.

Inside a downtown Detroit office building there may be more carpenters than cubicles but CEO Tim Bryan sees that low occupancy as a business opportunity to cut costs. He's moving part of his healthcare IT company GalaxE Solutions to Detroit, Mich.


Michigan has lost 838,800 jobs since October 2000. GalaxE is planning to hire up to 500 new workers.

"Every renaissance starts somewhere," says Bryan.

Bryan's company has offices in India and considered expanding to Brazil but after crunching the numbers chose Detroit at a cost of just 5 percent more than South America.

"For the first time we can deliver services here in Detroit at price points that are competitive with offshore," says Bryan.

There are no foreign governments, fluctuating currencies or time zone changes. The area's 2 percent unemployment rate includes lots of laid off but highly skilled workers from the auto industry.

"A cubicle is paradise for me at this point!" says Chris Thomas.

Thomas, a father of three, struggled for nearly two years to find work before GalaxE hired him as a business analyst.

"I've been smiling every day since," says Thomas.


Across the street, Quicken Loans just made downtown its new headquarters, bringing 3,700 jobs here.

Down the street Torya Blanchard's crepe shop has a staff of just seven people. Small businesses like hers make up 86 percent of private employers in the area.


This former French teacher expanded her business Good Girls Go to Paris from 48 square feet to more than 2,000 in just two years.

"I truly feel I couldn't have done it to this extent anywhere in another city the way I've done it here," says Blanchard.

Affordable rent means the chance to take a risk and now there are more shops on the block. Blanchard is banking on this mini-neighborhood revival and opening a bar on the corner.

Doane: "You've gone from French teacher to real estate developer."

Torya Blanchard: "I want to do what I love."

At Paper Street Motors an old warehouse has become a new business incubator. Taking advantage of short-term leases at $300 per month, casualties of the recession can reinvent themselves.

"When people lose their jobs and there are not a lot of jobs available that they create their own business," says business owner Paul Zimmerman.

In a city better known for hulking reminders of the ghosts of its past is a renewed entrepreneurial spirit.
Erin Rose
Positive Detroit

In 2010, I experienced some pretty cool "Firsts" in Detroit:
So I decided in honor of the traditional New Year's Resolution List, I would make a list of new "Firsts" I want to experience in Detroit this coming year.  So in honor of 2011, here's my Top 11 List:

1. Ice Skate at Campus Martius




I haven't ice skated in ages!  I am not good at it.  Roller Skating, yes.  Ice Skating, nooooo! That needs to change.  Plus it is an excuse to wear a cute outfit!  Just cross your fingers I'm not on crunches for the rest of this winter season :).

2. Experience Critical Mass



Critical Mass is a monthly bike ride through Detroit that begins at 5:30 pm at Grand Circus park the last Friday of every month during the warm weather months. The goal is to get as many bikes as possible on the streets and take them back from automobiles. The more bikes the better. Photo is of a couple of my friends en route this past summer.


3. Get in Touch with My Artsy Side at Pewabic Pottery

Pewabic Pottery is Detroit's very own "type" of pottery.  The pottery was founded in 1903 by the artist and teacher Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Horace James Caulkins, her partner. Caulkins was considered a high-heat and kiln specialist, and developed the "Revelation kiln". Mary Perry Stratton was "the artistic and marketing force." The collaboration of two and their blend of art and technology gave the pottery its distinctive qualities as Detroit's contribution to the International Arts and Crafts movement. You can find Pewabic Pottery all over town: Comerica Park, Detroit Public Library, The People Mover Stations, various homes in Detroit (specifically Indian Village, Bloomfield Hills, and Grosse Pointe), and many public and private collections such as the ones at the DIA and Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, I went on a tour of the facility with my parents.  While there, I learned about all the different classes Pewabic offers. Pewabic hosts a series of classes, but the ones I am most interested in is their Friday night "Evenings at the Pottery," Introduction to Throwing (cause I never worked on a wheel, cue that scene from "Ghost"), and Intro to Ceramics.  They also host a series of weekend workshops as well.  Pewabic's 2011 schedule is not posted yet, but click HERE for an example of the classes they offer. 

4.  FINALLY Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexican Town




5. Watch The Villages Detroit City Futbol Team Clench Another Victory for a Second Year in a Row



Model D TV: Detroit City Futbol League from Terry Parris Jr. on Vimeo.

I sadly missed my favorite soccer team clench the title in 2010.  In 2011, I won't miss it for the world.  Yes, this item is meant as a taunt to all the other Detroit Futbol teams, all in good fun of course :).  If you are interested in playing in the Detroit City Futbol League this spring/summer, click HERE.  Games are played at the World Cup Practice Field on Belle Isle.  Whether you play soccer or sit on the sidelines and cheer for your favorite team, it is a guaranteed swell time!

6. Go to Viciente's and FINALLY try their Paella



7.  Paddle Boat Around Belle Isle in These Babies


Paddle Boating is fun, we all know that. Paddle Boating in a giant swan around the largest isle park in the whole US of A , now that's entertainment!  For just $5, you can ride one of these beauties for a half hour. 


8.  Get My Dose of Vitamin Z While Walking Through the Butterfly House at the Detroit Zoo



9.  Ride a Segway on an Inside Detroit Tour with the lovely Maureen and Janette



10.  Visit Harsens Island


Harsens Island is located at the top of Lake St. Clair and is less than an hour from Detroit. You can get there by boat, short ferry ride, or small plane.

According to Pure Michigan, Is located in St. Clair County near the Detroit metropolitan area. The 39-mile long St. Clair River has recreational harbors in St. Clair and Marine City before the river divides into several branches at its mouth, creating the island strewn St. Clair Flats.

Harsens Island, the largest of the islands on the American side, was once a resort for the wealthy who arrived on steamers from Detroit. Today, Harsens Island and the St. Clair Flats area comprises one of the largest inland fresh water deltas in the world.

Harsens Island is also considered one of the most haunted places in America.  

11. Attend Dally in the Alley

Dally in the Ally is an annual fall street fair in north Cass Corridor neighborhood that's a celebration of local musicians, artists, restaurants and vendors of all sorts, sans corporate sponsorship. Every year it is organized by volunteers and the North Cass Community Union.


Guardian

Read the news and you'd think Detroit was a no-go area. But the music community is still thriving, thanks to the city's rich heritage.

I was at a record store a few days ago when a young guy asked if I was in "the documentary about Detroit?" that had just gone online (see above). I told him I was, to which he replied: "I loved it, but I want more."

I've been getting this from everyone – people want to hear more about the beauty and possibilities of the city. But growing up in Holly, which is 45 minutes north of Detroit, all I ever heard were the horror stories. As a teenager I would drive to a show at Zoot's Coffee or the Trumbellplex, two local all-ages venues, and I was always nervous that a wrong turn would lead me to this "ghetto" that everyone from my parents to the news talked about, a place where a group of carjackers would rip me from my 89 Chevy Astro and leave me for dead surrounded by burning houses and crack dealers.

When I worked at a liquor store in the suburbs I would listen to MC5 all the time. I would hear stories about the Vanity Ballroom, of someone who knew Rob Tyner or smoked grass with Wayne Kramer. I would hear about how great or awful the Stooges sounded.

Being a kid who didn't know anything about the history of the city, I would ask people about the Grande, or Eastown.  But some people were so detached from whatever Detroit had become that you could've been talking about Beirut. The history of our city was fed to us from the mouths of those who fled. That's probably why, when it was time for me to move, I fled just like everyone else. I moved to Chicago, but after a few years I had to leave. I just didn't feel satisfied. Something about that city didn't feel right; it wasn't my city. Back home with my parents, and unsure where to move, I slowly realised that everything that was happening from a musical standpoint was happening in Detroit. If you were a musician you just gravitated towards the city. You can't escape Detroit's musical history. The vastness of abandoned buildings has left places that would have been torn down in other cities. You can visit the Grande, Eastown or the Vanity, all staples of Detroit rock history. It's this history that is still present and, rather than hindering us, it fuels us. For me, Detroit's history isn't just an etching upon its tombstone, but a future of unlimited possibilities.

There are bands such as Human Eye, Terrible Twos and Tyvek, who are fixtures of the Detroit scene. Everybody here is in two bands and you wouldn't really call them side-projects because here you have enough time to do both. Living in Detroit you have much more freedom to create simply because you're not overburdened by living expenses. I am surrounded by people who can live comfortably and still pursue their craft. They can focus solely on the music. Most of the people I know who live in Detroit have low-key jobs, so they can spend most of their days practising, playing shows, making flyers, recording, listening to records, making T-shirts. Playing in the Dirtbombs, I can come home from a long tour and not be completely broke from paying rent, or have my house smell like cat piss from someone's pet sub-leasing my place. This is the freedom you have living here. That's why there are so many amazing things happening in this city.

A few weeks ago I was able to see Detroit hip-hop artist Guilty Simpson backed by the funk group the Will Sessions' Big Band at an outside festival against the backdrop of the now infamous Michigan Central Station. Next week my other band, Lee Marvin Computer Arm, will be appearing alongside sword-swallowers and flame-blowers at Theatre Bizarre – an incredible carnival behind the state fairgrounds.

Soon that guy at the record store won't have to ask for more, it will already be there. It already is here.
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