Obama’s 2011 speech described a Detroit that can only be described as a myth wrapped in a wish inside a dream.
“This is a city that’s been to heck and back,” Obama said. “And while there are still a lot of challenges here, I see a city that’s coming back.”
Obama referenced “tough choices” made to bail out GM and Fiat-Chrysler and also hailed the birth of a new wave of high-tech employment. “We said American workers could manufacture the best products in the world. So we invested in high-tech manufacturing and we invested in clean energy,” he said. “And right now, there’s an advanced-battery industry taking root here in Michigan that barely existed before.”
The biggest factory in this supposed new trend, Massachusetts-based A123 Systems, had plans to employ 5,900 workers nationwide to build lithium-ion batteries. In Detroit, A123 Systems never employed more than 1,000. The Energy Department awarded A123 Systems a $249 million grant to boost production. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was still receiving DOE largesse. A judge approved the bankruptcy in 2013.
In other words, the Detroit-area advanced-battery industry Obama said “barely existed before” his 2011 speech now … barely exists.