As I’ve written here on Cities, Detroit’s downtown urban core is seeing more investment, economic activity and an influx of talent than it has in decades. This revitalization is concentrated and spotty and it is far from inclusive, but it is certainly something positive, generating jobs, revenue and much-needed hope and optimism that provide a foundation to build upon.
The broader metropolitan region is home to huge assets – truly great research universities, world-class research, development and design capabilities, abundant musical and creative talent, a great global airport, and, after years of neglect, a massive effort to invest in and revitalize its downtown core.
Of course many of these assets are concentrated outside the city, in its suburbs and adjacent communities and metro areas such as Ann Arbor and Lansing. And for that reason, the real key to the city’s rebirth will depend on true regional cooperation. For too long the city and its suburbs have been beset by racial and class division, at times stoked by divisive politicians from both sides. The city’s looming bankruptcy provides the deep crisis that may at long last be the spur for the regional cooperation from the suburbs and outlying areas that long-run recovery requires.