Donald Trump once asked Michiganders, “What the hell have you got to lose?” However, after Mayor Duggan delivered his 5th State of the Union address with a clear vision for Detroit’s future and an array of results reflecting immense improvements, clearly, losing does not apply. Detroit is winning!
Mayor Duggan opened with an introduction of his cabinet officers, The Detroit City Council, then he jumped right in. He began with a detailed PowerPoint presentation illustrating the alarming numbers (224,000) of citizens who left the city between 2004 and 2014, a 26% decline in population. He started with his primary mission, getting citizens back in the city and a list of incentives in order to achieve it. However, while doing so, he gives preference to those who remained loyal and kept the faith by believing the city would bounce back.
For starters, The Detroit At Work Program, a career center that helps Detroiters get the necessary training that will land them in positions in health care, IT, construction, retail, manufacturing among others. Another great incentive is The Detroit Promise; it guarantees paid college tuition for high school graduates in the city who desire to further their education. So far, the program has managed some success; 63% of college freshmen made it to their second year under this program. There’s also a $10M commitment is in place to upgrade the Randolph Career Technical Education Center to train students and adults making them qualified candidates for employment with one of the many corporations that are continually moving back into the city. For instance, Microsoft…
The mayor proudly stated, “The two largest seat makers in America Lear, opened their new design center in Capital Park and Adient, moving it’s headquarters from Milwaukee, Wisconsin right across from Cobo Hall to be part of the city.” He also mentioned Fifth Third Bank has opened its new headquarters in Detroit employing 300 people and Microsoft will be coming soon.
Revitalization downtown and in neighborhoods
Although major corporations have moved downtown, others businesses are expanding into neighborhoods too. For instance, a Meijer store is scheduled to open in Lafayette Park and another has already opened where the abandoned Redford High was once located. Both business employs 275 people. Additionally, an auto parts plant employing 500 people has opened where the abandoned Southwestern High School was once located.
Therefore, jobs is no longer an issue. “What about the crime?” a woman asked. If anyone has questions about public safety in the city, fear no more! Those who consider returning can be comforted in knowing Project Green Light is in effect. Project Green Light is a community policing program designed to fight crimes that often take place at gas stations, party stores amongst other areas. Participating businesses have agreed to install surveillance equipment with a live video feed to the local authorities’ Real Time Crime Center. The crimes are being monitored as they take place. As a result, carjackings have decreased by 40% since this program launched.
On the other hand, many others endeavor to be business owners and Detroit is now an entrepreneurial society. Detroit supports new business start-ups and has implemented The Detroit Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, created by Kellogg and JP Morgan Chase. The fund offers loans ranging from $50-$200k to businesses who cannot get loans in traditional banking. Thus far, 45 business start-ups or expansions with nearly $5M in loans in Detroit have been supported by this fund. A native Detroiter and former Cass Tech High School student, Melissa Butler, owner and CEO of The Lip bar was awarded. She started her beauty brand, by making lipstick in her kitchen. Another source of funding the mayor mentioned is the Motor City Match, a program that provides competitive grants, counseling and small business loans. According to, Your Detroit Directory in the Small Business Assistance section, ” it offers $500,000 in matching grants quarterly, in addition to small business and construction loans and support services.” For more information, visit http://www.motorcitymatch.com or call (844)-338-4246.
Reverend Wendall Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP was present and is about what the mayor is doing. “The mayor is doing a great job bringing everyone to the table and getting citizens to return to Detroit. Don’t move, Improve” he says. “He often gets criticized when he should be supported.” He and many other Detroiters and returning citizens all agree within the next five years, Detroit will be the place to be.
Written by: L. Monay Fort