Support Detroit’s renewal, for Michigan's sake

Business Leaders for Michigan supports the state taking steps to accelerate Detroit’s exit from municipal bankruptcy in a sound fiscal condition. We also support the state making a significant contribution to the comprehensive financial restructuring plan developed by the Emergency Manager and the establishment of a financial oversight process to ensure the maintenance of sound fiscal practices that will improve city services.

Our Michigan Turnaround Plan recognizes the importance of cities, particularly Detroit, to the state’s economic growth. Detroit and Michigan’s other major cities disproportionately drive the economy, including our ability to manufacture, sell goods and services, retain talent and drive innovation.

Of the 20 largest U.S. metros, Detroit ranks first in the share of its output that is exported to foreign and domestic markets. It ranks fourth among large metros for electronic vehicle technology specialization and exceeds the national average for patents issued per 1,000 workers. Detroit also has a higher ratio of workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields than other metro areas.

The city’s success matters to all of us and Michigan voters clearly understand this. Recent polls, including one conducted for Business Leaders for Michigan, show that the majority of voters from every part of the state recognize the importance of Detroit to the state’s economy and support the state making a significant financial contribution to a restructuring plan.

Voters are keenly aware that around the world, Michigan’s reputation and image are driven by perceptions of Detroit. For example, the whole state is benefitting from Detroit’s stronger economy and recent positive global media coverage of Detroit’s redevelopment. The financial restructuring plan gives Detroit the ability to implement sound fiscal management practices, provide effective public safety and deliver cost-effective and reliable basic services. These actions will help the city grow and that will benefit the entire state.

The good news is that Detroit already is developing a strong foundation for its future. New residents are moving into the city. Businesses in the city are growing and continue to invest. More people are working downtown. More students are going to college in Detroit. Visit the city today and you’ll see tangible evidence of this spirit.

But that momentum is fragile and cannot be jeopardized by a prolonged bankruptcy.

Michigan voters say they want to make this plan a reality, and the state’s business leaders agree. We all want a city at its best, one that is safe, clean and more effectively managed.

Together, we all can provide strong support to the city that defines our state’s global identity by aligning behind the plan that is currently before the Michigan Legislature. With it, we have an opportunity to help Detroit through the largest municipal bankruptcy in history and emerge in sound fiscal condition.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission.

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W. F. Moigis
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 9:06am
We - the people of Michigan - cannot continue to pour resources into a city that is artificially being kept alive. Detroit is a city that doesnotknow how to administer its limited resources, is a center of rampant corruption and has been loosing residents by the hundreds of thousands for as far back ask can remember. I consider this city a drag on Michigan's growth due to the enormous financial resources it required from the state to keep it afloat. Insofar as the statistics mentioned in the column, they are in essence window dressing! They remind me of all the public relations campaigns that I recall from the last 40 years where such statements were made time-and-again with exactly the same non-results time-and-again. Ah yes, image is brought to the discussion. As if this were a critical aspect of the "Renaissance" that is being flogged every so many years. The fact is that Detroit's image is terrible around the world and I would ask myself "Why?" The answer is so obvious! We live in a country were facts cannot be presented and much less discussed. Or if issues are brought to the table, we are obligated dance through political minefields. Then how can the real issues be solved? Please understand that I have been keenly interested in seeing Detroit address it's terrible problems since 1968 and I am hopeful that it finally is taking some realistic steps to do just that. But much, much more needs to happen before that once great city will be able to survive on its own!
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 9:42am
Detroit has a huge undereducated population with virtually no job skills, until that situation can be turned around I don't see this city thriving again.
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 10:31am
As reported by The Bridge, Michigan cities across the State are some $30B behind in unfunded liabilities, the State itself is significantly behind in funding its liabilities for its employees and the teachers in the State. I would think it would be tough to fund one set of our retirees without funding others who are likely in similar dire straights.
Tue, 05/20/2014 - 4:50pm
An illiterate and semi-literate population, rampant poverty, dis-functional family units, lawlessness and violent crime and a corrupt dis-functional government make Detroit a hopeless urban environment. The sooner the politicians realize this the sooner real change will occur. What is needed is total state government oversight. Along with this must be severe downsizing of neighborhoods that must be serviced and the end of the entitlement agenda that weakens the moral and ethical values of Detroit's population. No amount of money, either State of Federal will ever change what has occurred in Detroit. People need to feel safe, have a sense of self worth, be literate with essential job skills before Detroit has a chance to be revived. Do you really feel this will happen in your life time?
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 2:15am
I wonder if Mr. Rothwell thinks about what he says, his remarks seem more inclined to create barriers between Detroit and the rest of the state. “Voters are keenly aware that around the world, Michigan’s reputation and image are driven by perceptions of Detroit.” Mr. Rothwell has dissed all the efforts of UM, MSU, and other university( outside Detroit) graduates around the world do, all that the businesses outside of Detroit do, and all that the cities such as Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Traverse City, Midland, Gaylord and other communities around Michigan do and how they impact the impressions of Michigan. Mr. Rothwell with such remarks is showing little regard for what it takes to bring people together, to bring people outside Detroit to help change Detroit. Mr. Rothwell shows little understanding of who makes success happen, whose efforts make Michigan work. Maybe it is only me, but I think that during these decades that Detroit has been sliding into the current situation people outside Detroit kept working, people kept creating, people added positive things to Michigan’s reputations, people kept supporting our state, they even supported Detroit. And yet, Mr. Rothwell can’t see it, or he is afraid to acknowledge it, he seems to only see that Detroit is what will make Michigan be respected around the world. My hope for Detroit is a bit less today.
Stuart P. Ray
Sun, 05/25/2014 - 9:30am
I agree with Mr. Rothwell. If we don't resolve Detroit it will spread like a cancer, Flint and Saginam are already on their way. If you have not read Rick Haglund's article today in MLive, I would encourage you to do so; "Michigan has cut its way to economic mediocrity".
Big D
Sun, 05/25/2014 - 11:03am
Big Mistake. Didn't even solve the underlying problem...unfunded pension commitments. The govt employee unions (which shouldn't even exist) will extract more and more, and in a few years Detroit will be back in trouble, bankruptcy and asking for more. Enough already. Besides, this is a bad other profligate Michigan cities will seek equal benefits.