Photo by Ara Howra
Jennifer Conlin
The New York Times

The rooftop party was in full swing when midnight approached on a warm Friday evening. Kerry Doman, 29, founder of an event planning business; Justin Jacobs, 28, head of a citywide recreational sports league, and Ara Howrani, 29, a photographer who runs a commercial studio, knocked back beers, while a group of office friends from a nearby dot-com chatted about the scratch-and-sniff wallpaper in their colorful new headquarters.

In another circle, a group of real estate brokers excitedly discussed the renovation of a 1920s office tower called the Broderick into a 127-unit apartment building with a restaurant, lounge and retail stores.

“I want the penthouse,” Jeffrey Hillman, 37, said jokingly as he pointed to the building’s ornate Baroque-style top in the distance. “I’ll fight you for it,” retorted Hank Winchester, 37, a local TV reporter.

The scene might have been run of the mill in Seattle or Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or other urban enclaves that draw the young, the entrepreneurial and the hip. But this was downtown Detroit, far better known in recent years for crime, blight and economic decline.

Recent census figures show that Detroit’s overall population shrank by 25 percent in the last 10 years. But another figure tells a different and more intriguing story: During the same time period, downtown Detroit experienced a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under the age of 35, nearly 30 percent more than two-thirds of the nation’s 51 largest cities.

These days the word “movement” is often heard to describe the influx of socially aware hipsters and artists now roaming the streets of Detroit. Not unlike Berlin, which was revitalized in the 1990s by young artists migrating there for the cheap studio space, Detroit may have this new generation of what city leaders are calling “creatives” to thank if it comes through its transition from a one-industry.

With these new residents have come the trappings of a thriving youth culture: trendy bars and restaurants that have brought pedestrians back to once-empty streets. Places like the Grand Trunk pub, Raw Cafe, Le Petit Zinc and Avalon Bakery mingle with shops with names like City Bird, Sole Sisters and the Bureau of Urban Living.

Those familiar with past neighborhoods-of-the-moment recognize the mood. “It feels like TriBeCa back in the early days, before double strollers, sidewalk cafes and Whole Foods,” said Amy Moore, 50, a film producer working on three Detroit projects. “There is a buzz here that is real, and the kids drip with talent and commitment, and aren’t spoiled.”

The rooftop party was hosted by a group called Move Detroit 11/11/11, started with the aim of getting 1,100 new people to move to Detroit by November.

“The Broderick project is huge because, believe it or not, there is not enough housing in the greater downtown area for all the young people moving to Detroit,” said Kevin Wobbe, 37, a founder of the group.

Kendyll Myles, 24, is one example of a new arrival. “I am mentoring young schoolgirls after work, modeling for a new fashion design company, and if I wanted, could be out every night at a different launch party or cultural event,” she said.

After finishing her master’s degree in public health last year, Ms. Myles had job offers from hospitals all over the country, including in Washington. Her family urged her to go anywhere but Detroit. “They thought I would be robbed and shot here,” she said.

But when she saw IAmYoungDetroit.com, a Web site profiling residents under age 40, she decided Detroit was the city for her. Those featured on the site (which she found after typing into Google “anything positive about Detroit?”) included Emily Doerr, 26, an M.B.A. candidate who recently opened Hostel Detroit, where guests pay as little as $18 a night for a bed; and Sean Gray, 29, who reimaged a British slogan, “Keep calm and carry on,” into posters and T-shirts for Detroiters. The site’s publisher, Margarita Barry, 26, this month will open “71 POP,” a retail gallery showcasing the work of 71 emerging artists and designers on the ground floor of a previously abandoned building that now has 30 environmentally friendly lofts and artists’ studios. (Rents start at $710 a month.)

Click HERE to read the rest of this article!
Detroit’s Fix-It Men: In Their Own Words
Joanne Muller
Forbes

When we made the unorthodox decision to feature Detroit on the cover of Forbes’ list of the Best Places for Business, we knew there’d be some snickering and catcalls. This is a city, after all, that’s been beaten down for so long we’ve come to expect the insults.

But anybody who takes a moment to stop spewing outdated cliches about the city would see that Detroit right now really is a land of opportunity. The barriers to entry for business are fairly low, and getting lower. Real estate is cheap, there’s an abundance of skilled workers seeking jobs, and the business tax structure has improved dramatically under new Gov. Rick Snyder.

Tim Bryan, chief executive of GalaxE Solutions, a New Jersey health care software company that’s opening a 500-person outpost here, told me he thinks Detroit is “the most affordable city in America.” Dan Gilbert, chairman of online mortgage company Quicken Loans, is so bullish on the city he not only moved his company’s headquarters downtown from the suburbs, he’s buying up downtown office buildings left and right and filling them with new tenants with the aim of creating a digital hub in downtown Detroit. “There’s the smell of something special happening,” Gilbert told me. “Detroit’s going to be a big story here in the next several years for America, and I think (businesses should) want to be part of it.”

Boosterism aside, Detroit is still facing some really serious problems: failing schools, high unemployment, urban blight. And Mayor Dave Bing has his hands full trying to revitalize the city while saddled with a $185 million budget deficit and a shriveling tax base resulting from the exodus of 25% of the city’s population over the past decade.

Click HERE for the rest of the article and to watch videos with Bill Ford, Jr., Mayor Bing, Roy Roberts, and more!
Detroit-based Franco Public Relations Group (Franco)  received a Detroit Renaissance Award of Honor from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) for its social media efforts on behalf of Panera Bread’s Day-End “Doughnation” program.

Franco’s Jim Miller, account manager, and Joe Ferlito, account executive, created a video about the Panera program to share with the WXYZ-TV #backchannel hashtag on Twitter.  Franco tweeted Stephen Clark, WXYZ anchor and #backchannel producer, and worked with him to reproduce the video for a WXYZ news segment that aired during the “Detroit 20/20” program.

"I get pitched a lot of stories and a huge percentage of them go unnoticed," said Clark. "But when Joe of Franco PR hit me up on twitter with the idea for a story on Panera Bread donating the daily leftovers to the homeless and hungry I was all over it.”

The Day-End Doughnation program donates unsold bakery products to local food banks and charities at the end of each day. Annually, Panera Bread bakery-cafes collectively donate a retail value of more than $50 million worth of bread and baked goods.

“Panera is very passionate about the Day-End Doughnation program; it is a core ingredient of what makes Panera a neighborhood bakery-cafe. We believe in giving back to the community and do this every evening by donating our leftover baked goods to non-profit organizations,” said Kirsten Collins, marketing manager for Panera Bread. “Franco was able to capture our passion and deliver information about our program in their backchannel pitch through video and interviews conducted with our Panera team members.”

 Established in 1964 in Detroit, Franco is Michigan’s oldest independent public relations firm. Its services include traditional and social media relations, crisis management, community relations, event planning and branding. Franco represents clients in manufacturing, retail, technology, nonprofit, professional services, entertainment and health care.

For more information, visit www.franco.com.

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Pick Mi Date is Sending Two Lucky Winners to Detroit APBA Gold Cup Hydroplane Races on the Detroit River Saturday, July 9th!!!
Details:
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You Must Sign Up As a Dater By Sunday, July 3rd 2011!
 Voting Begins at 9am Monday, July 4th!
 
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