A New Year, a New Detroit

by Michael Layne

As we enter 2015, I’m excited about the resurgence of the local economy. There is no better time to be in Detroit.

As a third-generation Detroiter, I personally am thrilled with the new excitement engulfing the city.  I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime.  But the evidence is all around us. Driving through downtown Detroit recently, I was struck by the prevalence of construction.

detroit-300x225We cannot minimize the monumental issues Detroit had, but the worst is behind us.  We’ve always known Detroit h

Metro Detroit has always been a hub of automotive research and development and as a result we have this tremendous resource of high-tech workers. Now, we are seeing some of that technology spinning off into other sectors.

We have a solid manufacturing base and people who know how to make things. The affordability of industrial real estate combined with our arsenal of human capital is attractive to investors in manufacturing. People are escaping the high cost of living and doing business in star cities and finding they can manufacture and start enterprises here and prosper.

Another asset is our low energy costs thanks to production in nearby Ohio and Pennsylvania. We have abundant fresh water with the Great Lakes and the Detroit River runs through our city center while other regions experience water shortages. We have an infrastructure in place that is really advantageous to manufacturers, especially now that wages are rising in China as its new middle class emerges.

We have renowned universities that graduate some of the best and brightest in the world. Now many of those young people are staying in the city to work and be in the center of where things are happening.

Our beautiful architecture is internationally famous and gives Detroit an urban sense of place that is missing in newer cities.

Let us not forget we are Midwesterners, we work hard, and we have grit.

There has been so much talk in past recent years about Detroit losing its population, but we forget that the metro Detroit area is the 11th most populous metropolitan area in the nation at four million people. If you include Windsor across the river into the metro area, it goes up to six million.

Today the city itself is seeing young people and baby boomers alike flocking to be part of its renaissance and excitement. Developers can’t keep up with demand for the city condos, townhouses and apartments these folks want to move into.

A couple years ago we were experiencing the perfect storm in Detroit: broke, its core industry failing, its political structure corrupt and inept and its schools struggling. I travel extensively throughout the world and when I gave Detroit as my home in the past I was met with incredulousness and pity. Now, people relay the good news they are hearing about my hometown.

All this gives me great optimism for our future. The momentum is moving so fast it makes your head spin. It’s a great time to be in Detroit and in the public relations industry.


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