For those of you not old enough to recall, click HERE for the Jefferson's Theme Song.

New Republic: The Detroit Project


But it (Detroit) is hardly the worst and certainly not hopeless. Europe is filled with cities that have risen from similarly miserable conditions.

Take Belfast, which suffered not only industrial decline and disinvestment, but also paralyzing religious guerrilla warfare. Although it received the same sort of hammer blow from globalization as Detroit, it now has steady job growth after decades of losses. Its economic output leapt 35 percent
per capita between 2000 and 2005. And, throughout the European continent’s industrial belt--the parts that are distinctly not Disneyland for American yuppies--there are many other examples of old redoubts of manufacturing (Bilbao, Leipzig, Sheffield, St. Étienne) that have enjoyed the very same sort of dramatic recoveries. This is not to oversell the optimism that these cities should inspire. They will never recover their full manufacturing might or swell with quite so many residents as before. Still, they represent realistic models for the rescue of Detroit.

It is strangely fitting that the recent auto bailout endowed Detroit with a new corporate patron hailing from Turin, Italy. Like Detroit, Turin was once a grand capital of the auto industry, which accounted for 80 percent of the city’s industrial activity, most of it with Fiat, Chrysler’s new owner. But the Italian auto industry didn’t fare much better than the American one in the face of new competition. Fiat’s Turin operations went from 140,000 workers in the early 1970s to a mere 40,000 in the early ’90s. And with the collapse of Fiat came the collapse of Turin. Its population plummeted almost 30 percent in 25 years. National and local leaders focused more on combating domestic terrorism from the Red Brigades than on providing basic services. The city spun through four mayors in seven years and accumulated a budget deficit in the mid-’90s of 120 billion lira.

Recovery from this kind of spiral begins with political leadership. And, in 1993, the city elected a reformist mayor, Valentino Castellani, who devised a breathtakingly ambitious plan for the city. Potential investors were never going to have faith in Turin unless the city spelled out its strategy with specificity, so the plan laid out 84 “actions” for development, which Turin vowed to implement by the year 2011. Despite its gritty condition, the city promised to develop a tourism industry and the transportation network to support it. It used its own funds, plus money from national, regional, and provincial governments and private companies, to create a range of institutions--business incubators, foundations, research laboratories, venture-capital funds, and technology parks--that would promote its information-technology and green-energy industries. Other efforts built on Turin’s historical strengths. Turin may no longer have had cheap industrial labor, but it still possessed people with a deep understanding of production and design. They simply needed new outlets and markets for their core competencies.

Turin’s plan worked. By 2006, it posted its lowest levels of unemployment ever and its highest levels of economic activity in half a century. The city reinvented itself as a center for design, not just of cars, but also for aerospace, cinematography, and textiles. Plenty of parts suppliers still depend on business from Fiat, but they have also found new customers in China and other growing markets. Physical regeneration accompanied the economic recovery. The city submerged the old central railway line that had bifurcated the town, transforming that route into a boulevard that serves as Turin’s new backbone. What Turin shows is that even a decaying industrial base can be the foundation for a new economy. That is, the industry may fade, but expertise doesn’t. Detroit’s American cousins, Akron and Toledo, have already shown how specialties developed for car manufacturing can be repurposed. As Akron’s tire-making industry declined, companies, working with local universities, shifted their focus and research efforts into the related business of polymers. The former Rubber Capital of the World now makes polymers and plastics that can be used in clean energy and biotech. Or take Toledo, which long specialized in building windows and windshields for cars. One industry leader, known locally as “the glass genius,” started tinkering with solar cells in the 1980s. The University of Toledo showed an interest in his work, and the state gave the school and two companies some money to investigate photovoltaic technology. That spurred other business and university collaborations, which drew more infusions of state economic development funds, and the region now has some 5,000 jobs in the solar industry.

Institutions developed at the height of Detroit’s postwar prosperity remain--and provide the city with advantages that similarly depressed industrial cities cannot claim. It has educational institutions in or near the city (the University of Michigan, Wayne State) and medical institutions (in part, a legacy of all those union health care plans) that are innovative powerhouses and that currently generate private-sector activity in biomedicine, information technology, and health care management. And there is already a smattering of examples of old industrial outposts that have reacquired relevance. An old GM plant in Wixom has been retrofitted to produce advanced batteries. There’s a new automotive-design lab based in Ann Arbor. And Ford, the most promising of the Big Three, has made a decisive shift toward smaller, cleaner cars.

Retooling Detroit’s old industries and advancing its new ones will take public money, and the feds are the only ones with money to give these days. But Washington already spends heavily on Detroit--$18.4 billion went to the city and the surrounding county in 2008. This money, however, isn’t invested with any broader purpose, a sense of how all this spending can add up to something grander. A better return on federal investments will take a functioning local government as well as leadership in suburban counties that is willing to collaborate closely with the city. And, with so much sclerosis, change will only emerge with a strong hand from above. State and federal governments should place the city’s most dysfunctional agencies in receivership as a quid pro quo for federal investment--a milder version of the federal takeover of Washington, D.C., in the 1990s. These higher-level governments should also insist that the city and its suburbs end their wasteful bickering and act as one on issues that naturally cross borders, like transportation and the environment. The region’s elected officials should be strongly encouraged to replicate the metropolitan mayors’ caucuses in Chicago and Denver, or a strong metropolitan transportation and land-use agency, as in Portland or Minneapolis. Business will never have faith in Detroit with local government in its current condition and with the metropolis so riven by old city-suburb divisions.

The point of Turin is that dramatic reform in local and metropolitan governance, coupled with strategic interventions from above, catalyzes market revival. Turin reoriented manufacturing with smart, subtle, and relatively minimal government interventions. And there are plenty of opportunities like this in Detroit. The metropolitan region is packed with companies that supplied parts to the Big Three. Because of the current credit desert, these companies should receive low-interest loans that allow them to reconfigure their plants to produce parts that can be sold to the international auto market--or for other types of machinery. And local government (or NGOs, even) can play the role of industrial planner. That is, they can look across the map and find instances where research institutions and manufacturers should collaborate on new ventures.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

Art X Detroit: Kresge Arts Experience will take over Midtown this spring as the free, five-day arts experience celebrates Detroit’s arts scene April 10-14, 2013. Throughout more than a dozen venues in the vibrant Midtown district, the public is invited to experience an exciting collection of visual art installations, dance, musical and theatrical performances, literary readings, and much more created by the Kresge Eminent Artists and Kresge Artist Fellowship Awardees. Art X Detroit is funded by The Kresge Foundation. A complete schedule of events is available at

“A thriving arts and cultural community not only enriches the quality of life for residents and visitors to southeastern Michigan, but inspires fresh ideas and fuels the creative vitality of the region,” said Rip Rapson, Kresge’s president and CEO. “In attracting local, national and international audiences to experience the works of these artists, Art X Detroit celebrates the Detroit metropolitan area as a hub of innovation and human energy. We’re proud to support the event and celebrate the Kresge Eminent Artists and Artist Fellows.”

The Kresge Foundation has provided $2 million to support more than 70 artists living and working in Metro Detroit through its Kresge Eminent Artist and Artist Fellowship programs since 2008. The Eminent Artist and Artist Fellowship programs are administered by the College for Creative Studies.

Art X Detroit Highlights

The event will feature exceptional works and performances by acclaimed Eminent Artists Bill Harris and Naomi Long Madgett, and art enthusiasts will experience some of Detroit’s most creative talents at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, the College for Creative Studies and other great venues in Midtown’s Cultural Center. A special visual arts exhibition runs through April 28 at MOCAD.

The opening night of Art X Detroit is a multi-venue celebration on Wednesday, April 10, 6:15 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. at MOCAD and the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, with special live performances at the First Congregational Church and Wayne State University. The opening night reception is free to the public; however, registration is required. RSVP by Monday, April 8 at or call 313.420.6000.

Art X Detroit captures the creativity and imagination of the Kresge Eminent Artists and Fellows whose works will be on display across Midtown, including:

“Have Mercy” and “Booker T. & Them: A Blues” by 2011 Kresge Eminent Artist Bill Harris. Award-winning playwright, poet, critic and novelist, Bill Harris’ plays have been featured in more than one hundred productions nationwide. In “Have Mercy,” Harris collaborates with Detroit’s own Reverend Robert Jones (a master blues historian and guitarist) for a demonstration of theatre at its most basic, in the tradition of Homer and African djelis, or griots. This one-act monologue will take place at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, GM Theater, to be followed by an excerpt from Harris’ book, “Booker T. & Them: A Blues,” directed by innovative stage director, Aku Kadogo, also a Detroit native.

Naomi Long Madgett - Poet and Publisher. With a career as a published poet that spans eight decades, 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist Dr. Naomi Long Madgett has amassed numerous accolades for her exemplary life of service and creative expression. The annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, established in 1993, has helped shine a spotlight on African American writers – recognizing 20 young poets to-date and attracting the attention of major publishing houses. Madgett will read from her own work as well as present a program of readings and dialogue reflecting on the careers of five of the awardees: Bill Harris, Claude Wilkinson, Nagueyalti Warren, Edward Bruce Bynum and Esperanza Cintrón. Readings at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, GM Theatre.

“¡Viva America!” by Maria Costa. In her new comedy special film ¡Viva America!, renowned actress/comedian/writer Maria Costa portrays an array of hilarious and thought-provoking characters whose lives are profoundly affected by immigration in the U.S. Following this premiere screening, there will be a question and answer session and a muy caliente salsa music and dance after-party with the cast – be sure to bring your dancing shoes! Film screening at the DIA Detroit Film Theatre followed by Q&A and dancing in the DIA.

“My Brightest Diamond” by Shara Worden. Worden presents a new, 360 degree, surround-sound instrumental composition for The Detroit Party Marching Band. The performance begins at MOCAD for the opening ceremonies of Art X Detroit 2013, and is followed by a music procession with the marching band, leading the audience from the art museum to the First Congregational Church, where the indie-rock band My Brightest Diamond (fronted by Worden) will begin a full length concert choreographed by Jessica Dessner. Concert performance beginning at MOCAD and moving to First Congregational Church.

Passalacqua: The Experience Part 1 & 2. Together, Detroit-based MCs Mister and Blaksmith form Passalacqua. The duo is responsible for inventive live presentations, conceptual, theatrical, almost performance art, which are altogether curious and highly engaging. In Part 1, they present a documentary retrospective of their group as told by friends, collaborators, and themselves. In Part 2, Passalacqua performs their complete discography live and exclusively debut their newest songs. Film screening and performance at the Michigan Science Center’s Chrysler IMAX® Dome Theatre.

“The People’s Vision,” a mural by Hubert Massey. Massey, whose work can be seen at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Paradise Valley Park and Campus Martius, works in a variety of media to create large public art installations and is noted for collaborating with communities to create art that tells their stories. For Art X Detroit, Massey is creating a 30’ x 60’ mural to be installed on the WSU Press Building at the corner of Woodward and Warren avenues. At MOCAD, Massey’s preliminary drawings of the mural will be on view throughout the month of April. Mural installation at WSU Press Building, drawings at MOCAD.

“Corner Store” by Design 99. Corner Store is a three-channel video installation inspired by experiences during two days when plywood boards covering the Design 99 studio/storefront space in Hamtramck were removed. Design 99 video recorded the reactions and questions of the neighborhood’s residents as they passed by. These reactions will form the basis for the video in the Corner Store installation. Three-channel video, mixed media installation at MOCAD.

“An Evening with Charles McPherson” by Mark Stryker. Stryker, Music Writer for the Detroit Free Press, presents “An Evening with Charles McPherson,” one of the important figures in Detroit's modern jazz explosion in the 1950s. At 73, the alto saxophonist has had a major career and remains at the top of his game. This evening with Charles McPherson is designed to illuminate Detroit's remarkable jazz legacy and influence. Discussion and performance at the DIA Detroit Film Theatre.

Art X Detroit is made possible by The Kresge Foundation and is supported by its partners ArtServe Michigan, the College for Creative Studies and MOCAD. It is produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc., a nonprofit organization that has spearheaded reinvestment in Midtown through the arts, beautification and economic development.

For a complete schedule of events, visit and Facebook for exciting updates. For more information on the Kresge Arts in Detroit program, visit,

"Forbes, enjoy your private, billionaire getaways. I'll take Detroit."

NemosBar AndyGalbraith700
Photo Credit: Andy Galbraith

11:30 am Annual Corktown Races  Register HERE!

2:00 pm 55th Annual Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade. Parade assembles at 1:00 pm on 6th Street and Michigan Ave. Starting promptly at 2:00 pm. The Parade, which includes marching and pipe & drum bands, color guard units, floats, clowns, novelty groups and marching units, moves west on Michigan Ave., passes the reviewing stand and disperses at 14th Street, approximately 2 hours later.

For all your pub crawling info, check out Visit Detroit's "Get Your Green On In The D."


Private industry is blooming here, even as the city’s finances have descended into wreckage.

In late 2011, Rachel Lutz opened a clothing shop, the Peacock Room, which proved so successful that she opened another one, Emerald, last fall. Shel Kimen, who had worked in advertising in New York, is negotiating to build a boutique hotel and community space. Big companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield have moved thousands of workers into downtown Detroit in recent years. A Whole Foods grocery, this city’s first, is scheduled to open in June.

On Friday, just as Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, was deeming an outside, emergency manager a necessity to save Detroit’s municipal finances, the once-teetering Big Three automakers were reporting growing sales.

“It’s almost a tale of two cities here,” said Ms. Lutz, who is 32. “I tripled my projections in my first year.”

Around the country, as businesses have recovered, the public sector has in many cases struggled and shrunk. Detroit may be the most extreme example of a city’s dual fates, public and private, diverging.

At times, the widening divide has been awkward, even tense. As private investors contemplated opening coffee bean roasters, urban gardening suppliers and fish farms, Detroit firefighters complained about shortages of equipment, suitable boots and even a dearth of toilet paper.

“You’ve got to walk before you run, and for many years we weren’t even walking,” William C. Ford Jr., executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, said of the developments of late within Detroit’s private sector. “But now it’s really interesting. Even as the political and financial situations continue to deteriorate, in spite of that, there is very hopeful business activity taking place.”

In the eyes of some, the signs of a private sector turnaround have only served to accentuate divisions: a mostly black city with an influx of young, sometimes white artists and entrepreneurs; a revived downtown but hollowed-out neighborhoods beyond; an upbeat mood among business leaders even as the city’s frustrated elected officials face diminished, uncertain roles under state supervision.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

Whole Foods Market, the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket, will open a 21,650-square-foot store in Detroit, MI on Wednesday, June 5 at 9a.m. The much-anticipated store, located at Mack Ave. and John R. Road, will add to the vibrant, growing food scene in Detroit. The store joins more than 345 other Whole Foods Market stores in North America and the United Kingdom.

Larry Austin, a 14-year veteran team member, will be the Detroit Store Team Leader. Most recently, Austin led the West Bloomfield location. “As a long-time Michigan resident, I am personally excited to open a Whole Foods Market in Detroit, and bring some career opportunities to the community,” said Austin.

The Detroit store will needs to fill approximately 75 positions before opening day. Team member positions will post online at on April 2. Candidates interested in learning more about working at Whole Foods Market can attend four open houses the company will host next week. Details about event locations and times can be found at

Urban Neighborhoods: Detroit's Indian Village

The City of Detroit is nationally known for its struggles with white flight and urban blight. However, the city still is home to it's share of impressive urban neighborhoods featuring well manicured lawns and tree lined gridded streets. Today, Metro Jacksonville takes a brief tour of two: Detroit's Indian Village and West Village Historic Districts.

Indian Village is a historic neighborhood located on Detroit's east side and is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The district has a number of architecturally significant homes built in the early 20th century. A number of the houses have been substantially restored, and most others well kept up.

Many of the homes were built by prominent architects such as Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper and William Stratton for some of the area's most prominent citizens such as Edsel Ford. Many of the homes are very large, with some over 12,000 square feet. Many have a carriage house, with some of those being larger than an average suburban home. Some of the houses also have large amounts of Pewabic Pottery tiles. The neighborhood contains many historic homes including the automotive entrepreneur Henry Leland, founder of Lincoln and Cadillac, who resided on Seminole Street.

Indian Village has a very active community including the Historic Indian Village Association, Men's Garden Club & Woman's Garden Club. The neighborhood hosts an annual Home & Garden Tour the first Saturday of June, a neighborhood yard sale in September, a holiday home tour in December, and many other community events.

Click HERE to read the full article!

When people talk about the resurgence of urban America — the shift of people, jobs and commerce back to downtowns and center cities — they're usually talking about a narrow group of elite cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston, and San Francisco.

 That's why a report [PDF] released this week on the transformation of downtown Detroit is so interesting. It documents the ongoing regeneration of a decent sized swath of the city's urban core. Detroit's Greater Downtown spans 7.2 square miles (reflected in the title of the report). It runs across the city's riverfront from the central business district to trendy Corktown, home of Slows Bar B Q and Astro Coffee; Mies van der Rohe's verdant Lafayette Park and Rivertown, north to the Eastern Market, Detroit's farmer's market; the Cass Corridor, with arts institutions; Midtown, home to Wayne State University, up Woodward Avenue to Tech Town and New Center (see the map below)

The report draws on new and unique data from local surveys as well as national data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey and other national sources. It is the product of a partnership between the the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Midtown Detroit, Inc., D:hive, and Data Driven Detroit.

The Greater Downtown corridor has a population of 36,550 people or 5,076 people per square mile. It might not be not downtown Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, or Philadelphia, but it compares favorably to other Midwest city-centers, like downtown Minneapolis, with 3.4 square miles and 28,811 people; downtown Pittsburgh at 1.3 square miles and 4,064 people; and downtown Cleveland at 3.2 square miles and 9,523 people. Of these downtowns, only Minneapolis has greater density than Greater Downtown Detroit.

Greater Downtown forms the Detroit region's commercial, educational, and entertainment hub home to major higher ed, arts and cultural institutions, its football and baseball stadiums and hockey arena, and several hundred restaurants, bars and retails shops. Each year, 10.5 million people visit the Greater Downtown area, according to the report.

While Greater Downtown is more affluent than the city as a whole, it lags behind other urban centers. The average per capita income of Greater Downtown residents is $20,216, considerably higher than $15,062 for the city as a whole but behind the nation ($27,334) as well as other urban centers like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Residents of Greater Downtown are also more educated than the city as a whole. College educated residents between the ages of 25 and 34 made up eight percent of the population for Greater Downtown compared to just one percent for the city as a whole, three percent for the state of Michigan, and four percent for the nation. More than four in ten young adults (42 percent) in Greater Downtown were college-educated, compared to 11 percent for the city, and higher than both the state and national rates of 29 and 31 percent, respectively.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

"Searching for Sugar Man" won Best Documentary Feature at the 85th annual Academy Awards.

The award for Best Documentary Film honors the best in non-fiction filmmaking.

"Searching for Sugar Man" was the leader of a strong pack of nominees. The documentary focused on the search for Sixto Rodriguez, a failed singer-songwriter from the 1970s who was an unexpected hit in South Africa. Directed Malik Bendjelloul, "Searching for Sugar Man" was an audience award winner at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Documentary from BAFTA and the Producers Guild of America.

Click HERE to read the full article!

Photo Of The Day. Happy Friday!

"Mom was worried about my trip to Detroit, I sent her this picture."

What do you think of when you think of Detroit? The Motor City? Ruins? Segregation? Abandonment? A cautionary tale?

Then ask: Have you been to Detroit? Have you researched it? How much time did you spend coming to your conclusions? What led you to think of Detroit that way? From what I've seen, few of the modern-day notions about Detroit come from a robust understanding of the place at the ground level. Not even my own.

We are all prone to snap judgments and stereotyping at some level. That's not always a bad thing. If we examined in depth everything we came across, we'd never accomplish anything at all. For example, to label Detroit as "Rust Belt"—a label for cities with older industrial buildings, many of them closed, and a troubled legacy resulting from that deindustrialization—does capture a portion of the truth.

But there's a bigger danger when storytellers—journalists, artists, filmmakers, and pundits—go beyond just shorthand labels and instead use a city merely as a canvas on which to paint their own ideas. Alas, this has all too often been Detroit's fate. In some ways the city has become America's movie screen, onto which outsiders project their own pre-conceived identities and fears. The real city, beyond a few iconic images and so-called "ruin porn" shots, need feature little if at all in these. And it is amazing are nearly devoid of actual people.

Consider some of the identities projected onto Detroit:

America's Bogeyman. As Detroit native Pete Saunders noted when calling Detroit "America's Whipping Boy," Detroit is an all-purpose bogeyman leaders in other cities can use to frighten voters when proposing their next boondoggle. "Better approve this stadium tax. Do you want to end up like Detroit?"

The Really Bad Sinner. Much as we minimize our own failings and justify ourselves as "good people" by comparing ourselves to serial killers and other "really bad people," cities can defend their own manifest failures by saying, "At least we're not Detroit," a tack humorously exploited by one of the Cleveland tourism videos.

Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland. Climate change activists try to outdo each other by presenting ever more apocalyptic visions of what will happen to the planet if their preferred solution isn't implemented immediately. Likewise, many writing about the legitimate problems of Detroit seem to compete with each other in creating the most spectacular depictions of total urban collapse.

"Fear of a Black Planet" (a term I'm borrowing from the name of a Public Enemy album). Racist views are no longer acceptable in society, but for some criticizing Detroit, America's blackest big city, makes an acceptable substitute. By talking about Detroit's crime or poverty or graduation rate, people can pretend to be criticizing "Detroit" when they really mean to criticize African Americans.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

The Michigan Film Office announced today the feature film Need for Speed has been approved for a film incentive from the state. The DreamWorks Studios’ film chronicles a cross-country journey at impossible speeds and will film in part in Detroit this summer.

In addition to filming in the state, two Michigan businesses – Race Car Replicas in Clinton Township and Technosports Creative of Livonia – are being utilized to build and enhance cars being featured in the film.

Cast for Need for Speed includes Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Mission Impossible III), Dominic Cooper (Captain America, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Imogen Poots (Fright Night, 28 Weeks Later) with Scott Waugh directing (Act of Valor).

“Need for Speed was initially just looking at Michigan to do car builds for the film, but we were able to make the case that this was a terrific place to film the movie as well,” said Margaret O’Riley, director of the Michigan Film Office. “This project fits so well into both our reputation as a great state for filmmaking and the automotive heritage Michigan is known for; it’s a strong investment all around.”

Need for Speed was awarded an incentive of $1,370,852 on $4,993,623 of projected in-state expenditures. The project is expected to hire 111 Michigan workers with a full time equivalent of 11 jobs.

The project has tapped Race Car Replicas to build chassis for several of the “super cars” that will be raced in the film. Technosports Creative is working on a vehicle that will also be showcased throughout the film. The work being done at Race Car Replicas and Technosports Creative is not included in, but is in addition to the work being incentivized.

The film adaptation will be a fast-paced, high-octane film rooted in the tradition of the great car culture films of the 70s while being extremely faithful to the spirit of the video game franchise. In Need for Speed, the cars are hot, the racing is intense and the story keeps players at the edge of their seat.

In Fiscal Year 2013, nine projects have been awarded a total of $10,695,291 on $37,346,227 of approved production expenditures for the year. These projects are expected to create 679 Michigan hires with a full time equivalent of 215 jobs.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Film Review Committee, comprised of senior MEDC staff including the Michigan Film Commissioner, reviews all completed applications using the statute to guide approval decisions.

The Michigan Film Office was created in 1979 to assist and attract incoming production companies and promote the growth of Michigan’s own film industry. The Film Office also administers the incentive program for film, television and other digital media production in Michigan.

For more on the Michigan Film Office, visit:

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation markets the state with a focus on business, talent, jobs and helping to grow the economy. For more on MEDC and its initiatives, visit:
Dan Gilbert Detroit

Dan Gilbert has a vision for downtown Detroit that many would find hard to square with the long, painful decline commonly associated with this city: a vibrant urban core full of creative, innovative and talented young people.

Yet Quicken Loans, the mortgage lender Gilbert co-founded in 1985, has invested $1 billion over three years, bought some 2.6 million square feet of commercial space in the downtown area and moved 7,000 employees there in a bid to make that vision a reality.

The company is in talks with 80 to 100 retail outlets and restaurants to open downtown space, and Gilbert and other business leaders have fronted most of the money for a $140 million light rail line in the heart of the city. Quicken has also invested in an incubator for technology startups, which now number 17.

Gilbert, who grew up in a Detroit suburb, wants to brake the exodus of educated young people from the only state in the country that lost population between 2000 and 2010. Among those who set up home elsewhere in recent years are two founders of daily deal marketer Groupon Inc, University of Michigan graduates from the Detroit area whose startup took root in Chicago.

"Young people are fleeing the state and we need to give them a reason to be here," Gilbert, 51, said in a recent interview in the Madison Theatre, one of many buildings his firm has bought.

Part of his zeal comes from his own need to attract top talent to Quicken Loans, which runs a nationwide online lending business that Gilbert says makes it "a tech company that happens to sell mortgages." Having avoided the subprime mortgages that crippled many of its competitors in the housing crash, the company has grown rapidly in recent years.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit by Rice and Lipka Architects and James Cornerfield Operations was described as "an inspirational project that combines past and present in a well resolved and convincing manner". "It creates new space for new creativity in a post-industrial city," the judges said.

Click HERE to see the full photo stream of projects! 

CNN Features Kid Rock's Gift To War Veteran (video)

A recent online spoof to raise half a billion dollars to save Detroit went viral. Now the filmmaker behind it, has another message he'd like to share.

Oren Goldenberg's latest video is a quick-cut stream of logos for Say Nice Things About Detroit, Made in Detroit, Imported from Detroit, Seed Detroit, Popup Detroit and dozens more. As a robotic voice reads each one out loud over the course of three minutes, the point hits home. Invoking the city's name for marketing purposes can work for nearly anything and yet mean almost nothing.

"I'm fascinated by this idea: Who is Detroit? What do you mean when you say it?" said Goldenberg. "We don't have any consensus on what Detroit is, so how can anyone come up with a plan to revitalize, regenerate, save, (do) anything (to) Detroit?"

The 29-year-old Detroit filmmaker is best known for his serious, unblinking documentaries about the city. But at the moment, he's switching gears to comedy, the language of political and socially relevant discourse for a generation that finds truth in The Daily Show and instant analysis on Twitter.

And if people are forced to think about what his videos are trying to say and whether they're real, well, mission accomplished.

A couple of weeks ago, Goldenberg posted a clip of a perky young woman pitching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $500 million to save Detroit. She explained how a $1 donation would get you a ride on the People Mover, $500 an abandoned home, $20 million the city's entire water department and so on.

So far, the video has drawn nearly 23,000 views on YouTube, as well as comments like, "This is a joke, right?"

Goldenberg's Kickstarter campaign is for real. He's trying to raise $15,000 for a six-part online comedy series, Detroit (Blank) City, to be directed by him and co-written by Ari Rubin, a childhood friend who is now a New York voice actor.

The project is described on the popular crowd-sourcing site as absurdist comedy. "Through humor, we will laugh to breathe another day," the text explains. In person, Goldenberg describes laughter as a catharsis for what's happening here -- both the problems of the city and the sometimes surreal ideas floated as possible remedies.

A University of Michigan graduate who studied film and video, Goldenberg has worked on everything from indie drama (he was the editor of Bilal's Stand, which screened at Sundance in 2010) to music videos.

"He's an excellent storyteller. He takes his work very seriously. He takes Detroit very seriously. He's committed to it," said acclaimed local filmmaker and educator Harvey Ovshinsky, who applauds Goldenberg's attempt to stretch his creative muscles with comedy.

Read the full article HERE!


When Ralph Watson, the Executive Creative Director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, told his wife in 2011 that he’d been asked to move from New York to Detroit to head up the advertising company’s new office to rebrand Chevrolet, her reaction was immediate and to the point. "There’s no fucking way," he recalls her telling him.

Who could blame her? For more than three decades, Detroit has been portrayed in the press as a city in decline, beset by unemployment, crime, civic corruption, and wholesale abandonment by anyone and everyone who could afford to get out. Hundreds of buildings stood vacant, whole tracts of the city reclaimed by nature with urban explorers and photographers parachuting in from all over the world to capture it in all its decaying glory. To many, the city that had birthed the auto industry, armed the Allies during WWII, and given the world some of the best music of the 20th century, was nothing more than a failed state, America’s answer to the Roman Ruins.

And yet, on a cold Thursday morning in the beginning of 2013, Watson, who somehow convinced his wife to move with him to the Motor City, is sitting in his corner office across from Todd Grantham, GSP’s Managing Director, at the company’s newish office in the Palms Building, an historic spot downtown, a home run hit from Comerica Park. The office, which opened in 2011, occupies five floors and has 275 employees focused on Chevrolet. Together they’re working to rebrand the carmaker as it expands globally with the new slogan, "Find New Roads."

On Watson’s window, which faces onto Woodward Avenue ("the first paved road in the U.S.," he noted) is a stenciled message that’s been used in a series of Corvette print ads being developed: "THIS IS AMERICA."

So, how does he like Detroit? "It’s Startupville," Watson says. "It’s anything goes, which I really like. It’s almost no rules."

"There’s massive opportunity here," adds Grantham, who relocated from San Francisco around the same time as Watson. "It feels like there are more interesting things here. People feel like there’s more wide open space than anywhere else"

GSP is among a small but dedicated cohort of creatives, entrepreneurs, and techies who are trying to stake a claim in Detroit and, they hope, help the city as they do so. Just down the street from the Palms Building is The M@dison Building, home of Skidmore Studio, a design and branding firm that started with auto illustrations in the late 1950s and has grown to a full service creative agency. The company moved back to Detroit three years ago after several decades in the suburbs, since, as Tim Smith, Skidmore’s President and CEO, puts it, "If the city is gonna come back, the creative community is gonna be part of that." Smith remembers a time when he’d fly out to meetings with clients in other cities and they’d say, "Oh, you’re from Detroit. We feel so bad for you." Now, he says, "We get off the plane and go 'We’re from Detroit,' and they say, 'That’s kinda cool.'"

"Damn right, it’s cool!," he tells us. "I think the bravado is coming back."  

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It looks like 2013 may be a better year for the Detroit housing market. In the first month of the year, all multiple-listing service sales rose by 9.4% from a year earlier, according to data from Realcomp.

This stands out in a market that suffered so much throughout the housing crisis, and in a market that the Obama Administration considers a struggling economy.

In the Obama administration’s monthly scorecard for January, the U.S. Department of Housing of Urban Development revealed that the administration’s efforts have helped nearly 100,000 Detroit households avoid foreclosure.

"Every foreclosure avoided has positive impacts for families, communities, and our economy," said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad.

Additionally, an estimated $208 million has been provided for the city via HUD’s stabilization program in order to aid redevelopment and assist resident property purchases, the scorecard revealed.

The median sales price for all homes for sale jumped 27.1% from $63,000 to $80,091 year-over-year in January. The median sales growth varied from metro to metro, with some metros seeing as much as a 65% increase since last year, the Realcomp report showed.

It looks like buyer demand grew as the Detroit market continues to become healthier, with the average days on the market dropping from 89 to 81.

The true indicator of a market turnaround in Detroit, however, is the decline in foreclosure sales, which dropped 11.7% from last month to January 2012. Some metros saw a much larger drop of foreclosure sales, such as Grosse Pointe, whose foreclosure sales fell 40% year-over-year.

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Challenge Detroit, a national initiative focused on revitalizing Detroit by retaining and attracting top talent to the city, has launched year two of the program and is now accepting applications for its 2013-2014 fellows.

The program recently received a $230,000 grant from the Live
WorkDetroit initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that will be applied toward programming and recruitment for the upcoming class.

Challenge Detroit chooses 30 fellows based on a combined public voting-private selection process to live and work in the city of Detroit. Every month the group also works on a community "challenge."

The current team on Friday kicked off the fifth of its 10 challenges – helping revitalization efforts along the storefront districts on Livernois in Detroit, near The University of Detroit Mercy. That team of 30 fellows started the program in August.

The organizers' goal by the end of the program is to turn the fellows into 30 advocates for the city.

The fellows work 32-hour weeks at their host companies and spend the fifth weekday on community service projects around the city.

Partner nonprofits include the TechTown Detroit and the Detroit Regional News Hub.

It will be accepting applications until March 3 and is still looking for companies to participate.

Click HERE to read the full article on Crain's Detroit!